Canadian Consulting Engineer

H.H. Angus & Associates 90 Years of Innovation

March 1, 2010
By Debby Blyth And Peggy Doe

In 1920, Professor R. Angus gave a speech to the Royal Canadian Institute saying, "I foresee the day when electricity will be manufactured cheaply enough to replace coal in the heating of homes." Toda...

In 1920, Professor R. Angus gave a speech to the Royal Canadian Institute saying, “I foresee the day when electricity will be manufactured cheaply enough to replace coal in the heating of homes.” Today, Angus is looking ahead at sustainable fuel alternatives and using co-generation systems, keeping with our goal to remain leaders in engineering.

Over 90 years in business, H.H. Angus has weathered the bad times and grown stronger in the good. Our company has developed expertise in many sectors: healthcare, industrial, technology, and commercial buildings.

Three generations of the Angus family — Harry Holborn (founder), Donald Lloyd, and current chief executive officer and president, Harry G. — have led H.H. Angus through the evolution of the dynamic industry.

A history of “Firsts”

A glimpse back at the company’s past reads a bit like the history of building technology development in Canada. Much has changed, for example, in museum design since 1926, when company founder H.H. Angus first took part in the engineering of an extension of what was then called the Art Gallery of Toronto. An ink-on-linen image of this design, hand drawn by H.H. Angus, is framed and hung in our offices, providing a reminder of our past.

Decades later in 2009, our company held its 90th anniversary celebration in the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), newly transformed by architect Frank Gehry and mechanically engineered by our firm. We had to develop sophisticated hidden mechanisms tailored to the requirements of each gallery, while ensuring the interior environmental conditions met the gallery’s archival standards. The AGO is just one example of the innovative spirit that has allowed H.H. Angus to meet the needs of an ever-changing and challenging client base.

Another of the firm’s longest-standing client relationships began in 1946, when we worked with Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. Like many others of its time, the building was designed to be heated with coal. H.H. Angus developed the engineering site plan, as well as the mechanical designs to install the first hospital electrical air-conditioning unit in what was then the largest hospital in the British Commonwealth.

In 1967, H.H. Angus provided the electrical and mechanical engineering for the tallest tower in the British Commonwealth, the 56-floor TD Bank Tower of the Toronto-Dominion Centre. H.H. Angus adapted a new concept of electrical distribution to make it work in a building of this scale and size. Managing rainwater drainage in a building this tall also required creative thinking. H.H. Angus developed intermediate transition stations to create breaks in the descending water to prevent damage due to the height of the fall. The project began a working relationship that still exists today, as the firm continues to do work in all five of the Toronto- Dominion Centre towers.

Environmentally clean and technically complex, Eastman Chemical’s PET plant, built in 1987 at Kodak’s Toronto site in Mount Dennis, used a closed system operating in a hot nitrogen environment to process the Polyethylene Tetrathyalate (PET) resin for moulding into “squashy plastic” bottles. This facility was the first of its kind in Canada. As prime consultants, H.H. Angus helped Kodak design a new method for “solid stating” the resin pellets to make them suitable for injection molding and then blow-molding plastic drink bottles. After researching different methods of heating the resin pellets, the team identified a German method used for cooking cereal flakes, and redesigned the machinery to allow it to heat the crystals by blowing them around in hot nitrogen. The pellets and the nitrogen were then cooled using a chilled glycol system that replaced the traditional ambient air cooling arrangement used in similar facilities. These and other innovations increased the process through-put capacity by a factor of close to four, significantly increasing the plant’s efficiency.

In 1989, Toronto’s SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) was designed with a fully-retractable motorized dome, the first roof of this kind in the world to be done on the scale of a stadium. The project required not only innovative engineering; it was also an example of how the various groups in H.H. Angus were working closely together. In this case, mechanical and electrical groups teamed up with the firm’s vertical transportation and lighting experts. The design included a method of cooling that focused on washing the cool air down over the patrons, then allowing the air to rise as it warmed. This approach produced energy savings by not cooling the large empty volume of space just under the dome roof. In addition, the team’s lighting innovation won the Edwin Guth award for incorporating cutting edge vertical illuminants within a stadium environment.

The 1990s took H.H. Angus to the Royal Docklands area of Canary Wharf, in the United Kingdom. They were part of a hand chosen international team of architects, merchant bankers, city planners and engineers given the task of assessing options to develop this huge block. H.H. Angus led the team and conducted a utilities study that involved evaluating and designing how the electrical, heating and cooling systems would be configured for a variety of land uses.

From India ink hand drawings and slide rulers, to automated design tools, the firm has evolved its own methods of design as the industry evolved. Today, the firm is using three-dimensional CAD software to design the mechanical cooling plant for Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children’s new 700,000-sq. ft. Research Tower, as well as the new Fort St. John Hospital in B.C. Green building design and state-of- the art technologies are driving the vision for these projects.

As proud as H.H. Angus is of its past, the firm’s focus is on the future, with a steady eye on deliver ing sound engineering solutions that serve clients’ needs. Harry G. Angus explains: “No matter how innovative our designs are, they must be coupled with excellent engineering functionality — systems must work reliably and both operational and life cycle costs must be considered. If anything, these skills are more important today as our clients look for ways to improve their own business competitiveness, and as they focus increasingly on environmental practices and sustainability. We plan to be right there alongside them every step of the way, just as we have been for 90 years.”

Debby Blyth is creative director at H.H. Angus & Associates in Toronto. Peggy Doe is a freelance writer.

Today, H.H. Angus & Associates and its affiliated companies have close to 500 employees. Privately-owned, the company continues to specialize in mechanical and electrical design, related building services such as elevators, lighting, sustainable design and facilities management. The corporate headquarters are in Toronto. The company also has offices in Western Canada and plans to expand geographically.


“There is no magic in doing a good job; it takes knowledge, determination, good staff and interesting clients” -D. L. Angus


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