October 19, 2011
Penticton Aquatic Centre dives into a Silver Award
The $23.3 million Penticton Aquatic Centre Expansion is a Silver Award winning project in the Vancouver Regional Construction Association's Awards of Excellence.
The project was basically a race against time as the March 31 Recreation Infrastructure Canada grant deadline ticked down.
“Normally, a project like this would take 24 months – a year in design and a year to build,” said architect Glen Stokes, a partner in Bruce Carscadden Architecture.
Instead, the project team had only 15 months to design, demolish an old structure and construct the LEED Gold expansion.
It won an award in general contractor working a project between $15 million and $48 million category.
The construction team, led by Stuart Olson Dominion Construction Ltd., hit the ground running.
“It was a huge scheduling challenge,” said project manager Willie Joubert, who worked the project with Nick MacDonald, superintendent for Stuart Olson.
The project came in on time, said Joubert, because of one key element.
“We had a team that was co-ordinated and focused on the end and worked well,” he said.
This team atmosphere mitigated conflicts.
“When your people are under such high pressures, there is the potential for huge blow ups, but we never had any problems in that respect,” said Joubert.
That team spirit also lead to creative and innovative thinking, he added, and it created a sense of challenge to think ahead, help out the other trades and bring in the job on time.
“It was also one of the most fun projects,” he said, adding that everyone worked to succeed.
Stokes, who worked with company principal Bruce Carscadden, said plans were essentially drawn in three phases.
“Normally, it is a little smoother when you can take the design to completion,” said Stoke.
He added that the first design plans dealt with the excavation and piles to get the work started and the pool tanks.
“They had the grade down in the first package,” he said.
The second phase dealt with the superstructure and the envelope, while the third dealt with the finishes.
Stokes said that the strategy was to optimize opportunity, but at the same time the design had to accommodate any problems and we didn’t know what those problems were going to be.
“We didn’t know the mechanical room layout,” he said.
So, the design had to reflect that with extra room for expansion if needed.
On a tight timeline, the project hit the first snag as the pilings were being placed, with the intent to use the old pilings where possible.
A fluctuating water table tossed a spanner when crews found some old pilings had rusted.
A redesign was needed and that called for a major design overhaul on the structural steel, where the drawings had gone out to fabrication.
Crews found ways to work around such setbacks by working longer hours and out of the normal construction sequence.
The team implemented a night shift for five to six months.
“We asked trades to start early and compress the time needed for completion through extended hours, second shifts and acceleration of material deliveries,” said project co-ordinator Niko De Marre.
While in the early stages of the pilings, there was opportunity to do tiling on some portions of the slab and decks inside the building, but tiling could not be done under freezing weather conditions.
“We put a temporary structure inside the building,” said Joubert, adding this tarped and hoarded artificial shell was then heated so they could get on with the tiling, which bought time.
“By the time we were finished, the whole structure was enclosed,” he said of the 15,000 square foot building.
The concrete block work, structural steel, roof cladding and glulam structure were all erected at a blistering pace, as crews worked two 10-hour shifts, seven days a week.
In the end, it all came together.
The new expansion offers a two-storey glass façade, glassed-in viewing, space for meetings, child care and offices, while the rear-view windows offer mountain views from the hot pool.
Many of the trades and employees on site were locals and heavily invested in the project.
“There was a tremendous sense of pride in the project,” said Joubert.
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