Canadian Consulting Engineer

COMMENT: Clients are the vital backbone of excellence

October 1, 2011
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



“Stern to stern” overhaul for West Block

Work is under way on the West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Viewed from Wellington Street, the building sits to the left of the more famous Centre Block, but forms an integral part of the Victorian Gothic complex that is the iconic face of Canada.

The West Block was built in 1859 and includes two towers  — the Mackenzie Tower added in 1878, and the Laurier Tower added in 1906. The building is badly deteriorated and is to receive a “stern-to-stern” overhaul. It was vacated earlier this year and PCL Constructors were awarded a construction management contract in July for the first phase of reconstruction, estimated at $359 million.

Part of the program is to build a new infill structure in the courtyard that will serve as a temporary debating chamber for the House of Commons. The House will move into it when renovations to the Centre Block begin, and then eventually, the infill space will be converted to committee rooms.

Ojdrovic Engineering and Cooke Engineering are structural engineers and Crossey Engineering are the mechanical-electrical engineers. The architects are ARCOP Group and Fournier Gersovitz Moss in joint venture. Heritage consultants are Keith Blades Conservation and Craig Sims.

The West Block’s load-bearing masonry walls are urgently in need of attention and require seismic reinforcement. Almost half of the original stones will need to be removed while the core of the walls are repaired. Also the entire mechanical and electrical systems are being brought up to code. The renovations will be completed in 2017.


Quebec construction industry under fire

Calls for a full-fledged official inquiry into the construction industry of Quebec were renewed in September after elements of a report were leaked to Radio Canada.

The leaked “Duchesneau” report was prepared by a special anti-corruption squad created in February to investigate possible bid rigging and other irregularities in the tendering process. The study apparently found that organized crime elements had infiltrated the construction industry and said that engineering prices were inflated.


Biological Sciences Complex given new life

The south and west wings of the Biological Sciences Complex at the University of British Columbia had a grand re-opening in August following a $45-million renovation.

Located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Main Mall and University Boulevard, the large complex consists of buildings from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Three buttresses clad with illuminated glass panels were added to the exterior of the complex as part of the seismic upgrades. Another feature is the installation of a prototype daylighting technology developed by the university and SunCentral that increases the depth sunshine can reach inside buildings.

The design team includes architects Acton Ostry and consulting engineers Read Jones Christoffersen (structural and building envelope), MCW (mechanical and electrical), and Gage Babcock (building code).


First LEED Fellows

Stephen Carpenter, P.Eng., president of Enermodal Engineering of Kitchener, Ontario (a member of MMM Group), has been named one of the inaugural class of LEED Fellows by the Green Building Certification Institute. The GBCI is affiliated with the U.S. Green Building Council, which founded the LEED green building rating system.

Halsall has

new president

Michael Van Dusen, P.Eng. is succeeding Peter Halsall, P.Eng. as president of Halsall Associates. Based in Toronto, Van Dusen previously headed the restoration practice of the building engineering company. Peter Halsall will continue as Chairman of Halsall and other businesses in the Canadian operating company of Parsons Brinckerhoff, of which Halsall Associates is part.



Where are the women?

Perusing a recent issue of Canadian Consulting Engineer, I noticed your Editorial Advisors are all men. 

To promote women in consulting engineering, I believe we need to promote women on project teams, in leadership roles, and as members of boards and committee. We need role models at all levels and in all areas of our industry. 

Lianna Mah, P.Eng.

Associated Engineering, Burnaby, B.C.

What to learn from Fukushima?

As engineers and scientists, we should not state that nuclear power is “a little frightening,” even if it may be somewhat true. (CCE Comment, August-September, page 4). This only adds fuel to the anti-nuclear groups.

We must not give up on developing nuclear and other forms of renewable alternative energy resources for the future. As you have said, we have to be aware of both the potential and dangers of all forms of energy resources, and also plan for mitigating the associated risk with detailed analysis of “what if” scenarios to the best of our ability and knowledge.  The probability of an incident may be minimal, but the resulting damage, if the incident did occur, may be extremely large. 

It is easy to be against anything and everything, but it is wise and preferable — though harder — to work for the benefits of something, while minimizing all possible associated risks.

Raj S.V. Rajan, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Sherwood Park, Alta.


Construct Canada coming up

Construct Canada is on November 30 to December 2 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building. It is Canada’s largest construction show and has seminars with 450 speakers. The accompanying National GreenBuilding Conference focuses on sustainable and energy efficient practices.


Green Cities by Default

FloraShock: an Ecotopian Vision of the Future

The mixed-media model was part of an exhibition called Architecture: New City Landscape, held at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre this summer.

by Jason van Horne is a multi-media work that depicts cities 100 years after “vengeful Mother Nature” has “struck back” at human beings and decimated much of the world’s population. Cities have become overgrown but people are slowly repopulating the ruins and crumbling buildings. The result is “gardens on every rooftop, vertical farms inside old skyscrapers, rope bridges connecting condo towers and ramshackle dwellings cobbled together on top of former million-dollar penthouses.”

x spare – optional – item


Argentina work for Candu Energy

SNC-Lavalin’s new subsidiary Candu Energy Inc. will be helping to refurbish the Embalse Nuclear Generating Station in Argentina. A $440-million contract was signed in August with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. SNC-Lavalin is due to take over AECL’s CANDU reactor business. Work on the 1980s-era CANDU 6 reactor will include replacing 760 reactor feeders and 380 calandria tubes.


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