Canadian Consulting Engineer

Up Front

December 1, 2011
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



Edmonton’s Federal

Building is reborn

Edmonton’s Federal Building and public plaza is being dramatically redesigned in a $275-million project. The 10-storey Art-Deco style building, called one of the city’s most significant architectural landmarks, was designed in 1939 but not built until the late 1950s. It has sat vacant since 1989.

A two-storey entry pavilion with gathering spaces, cafe and visitor centre is being added on the west, while a large underground parkade will replace the surface parking lots, making way for a new public plaza to reconnect the building to the legislature grounds. The mixed use complex, scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2012, will provide office space for Alberta’s MLAs and legislative staff, as well as Government of Alberta departments.

Kasian is the prime consultant. Consulting engineers are Stantec (civil, structural engineering and energy modeling), Hemisphere (mechanical), Genivar (electrical), Building Science Engineering (building envelope), Gabriel Mackinnon (lighting) and LRI (code). Moriyama and Teshima are doing urban design and Clark Builders are construction managers.


Djavad Mowafaghian Centre starts construction

Ground was broken for the new Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health in Vancouver in October. The $68.8 million, six-storey building is owned by the University of British Columbia and is being built on campus.

The centre “unites the study of neuroscience, neurology and psychiatry” and will provide patient clinical care as well as research and teaching facilities It includes a “Synapse Garden” and a large atrium, and it is being designed to the LEED Gold standard.

“Almost half the population of B.C. is affected directly or indirectly by a brain disease, including mental health disorders, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,” said B.C. Health Minister Michael de Jong at the ground breaking.

The consultant team is: Stantec (architecture), Fast + Epp (structural), AME (mechanical), Aerius (electrical), Core Group (civil), Geopacific (geotechnical), GHL (code), JRS (envelope). Heatherbrae are construction managers.


Steep walls at Steepbank

Associated Engineering has designed a heavy haul bridge over the Steepbank River near Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta. The 33-metre span bridge rests on 20-metre high mechanically stabilized earth wall abutments. The abutments are believed to be the tallest mechanically stabilized earth wall abutments in North America.


City transit projects on track

Cities across Canada are starting new transit projects. In Toronto, Metrolinx announced that they had selected a group to design, build and finance a three-kilometre section of the rail link from downtown to Pearson International Airport. The selected AirLINX Transit Partners has AECOM as consulting engineers. Construction is to begin in 2012.

SNC-Lavalin in a 50/50 joint venture with Graham Infrastructure has won a $300-million contract for the city of Edmonton’s North Light Rapid Transit project. The consortium, known as North Link Partnership, will provide construction management, labour, equipment, and commissioning services. The North LRT is a 3.3 kilometre extension from the city hall to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. The downtown portion involves a 700-metre underground tunnel.

In Ottawa, a joint venture involving Morrison Hershfield, STV Canada Consulting, URS and Jacobs Associates (Capital Transit Partners) is completing the preliminary engineering of the $2 billion, 12.5-kilometre Ottawa Light Rail Transit project. The first phase involves tunneling three kilometres under the downtown. The city has advanced the opening date to spring 2018.



Awards and appointments

Fred Leber, chief executive officer of Leber/Rubes (LRI) in Toronto, has been appointed chair of the Underwriters Laboratories Canada (ULC) Committee on Fire Alarm and Life Safety Equipment and Systems.

Nils Voermann, P.Eng., global managing director of technologies with Hatch, won the Engineering Medal for Engineering Excellence in the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards handed out November 12.

In the same awards, Anton Davies, P.Eng., vice-president of Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin, won the Engineering Medal for Management.



Chileans head for Toronto

The Chilean association of consulting engineers (Asociacion de Empresas Consultoras de Ingenieria de Chile (AIC)) will be in Toronto this spring hoping to establish contacts with Canadian junior mining companies and Canadian consulting engineers.

The move by the engineers is part of a wider push by Chile to increase its exports from the services sector. The narrow country that stretches over 4,000 miles down the western coast of South America sees itself as becoming a gateway to Latin America. Several Canadian consulting engineers such as SNC-Lavalin and Golder are already established in the country.

AIC president Andres Poch Piretta explained to CCE that whereas Chilean consulting engineering firms used to be largely local, in recent years large international companies have been acquiring them. An entire city quarter of over 20 blocks in the capital Santiago is occupied by mining engineering companies.

While the engineering sector in Chile is dominated by the mining industry, the country is also developing high-tech expertise in areas such as water treatment and environmental monitoring, security and electronics recycling.

Chile has around 17 million people, with about 6 million in the capital Santiago. It is on the verge of becoming a developing country, with exports that grew from $71 billion in 2010 to a forecast $85 billion in 2011.


Voices From Two Rivers

By Meg Stanley (2011: Douglas & McIntyre), 312 pages.

Review by James Kay

Voices From Two Rivers

takes readers on an adventure through the history of power generation on the Peace and Columbia rivers in British Columbia.

The province’s Two Rivers policy ultimately saw the construction of two dams on the Peace River and six on the Columbia and its tributaries, transforming the landscape, economy and future of the province forever. The W.A.C. Bennett Dam (183 metres) on the Peace River and the Mica Dam (244 metres) on the Columbia River are among the longest and highest earth-fill dams in the world.

The book discusses the projects separately, in stunning detail and clarity, yet it is the cumulative impact of these programs that makes this story so magnificent.

Spanning from the early 1950s until the mid-1980s, the Two Rivers developments represented at one time as much as 13% of the total employment in construction in the province, with 20 unions and 30 trades including 40,000 workers.

The impacts continue even today as new generators are added to the dams and the original program for Site C is just now getting under way. Energy exports directly resulting from the Two Rivers hydro developments net the province billions of dollars every year and they produce 64% of BC Hydro’s electricity.

The book delves into the political and governmental framework in the early 1950s and 1960s and the monumental vision and perseverance required from the likes of former premier W.A.C. Bennett and Gordon Shrum, BC Hydro’s co-chair in charge of the Peace project.

It strikes an interesting balance between factual details and the personal recollections of the people who made the dream a r
eality. It tells of the thousands of residents, hunters and trappers whose livelihoods were impacted. It reminisces about details such as the Beattie family ranch, “the envy of the country,” which was lost when over 1,700 square kilometres on the Peace River were flooded. An interview with Stu Drinnan who owned a store in Hudson’s Hope recalls when the town of 800 exploded to accommodate 4,500 newcomers within three years.

For those who appreciate history and the magnificence of engineering mega projects, this book is a must-read. Sales of the book go to the BC Hydro Power Pioneers Miracle Million Campaign for BC Children’s Hospital.

James Kay is a principal with Aplin Martin Consultants. He is branch manager in Kelowna, B.C.


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