Canadian Consulting Engineer

What’s New… (March 01, 2007)

March 1, 2007   Canadian Consulting Engineer

TOWERS

The Bow changes Calgary’s skyline

A 59-storey office tower is expected to begin construction this summer in downtown Calgary. The Bow will be the tallest office building in western Canada when it is completed in 2011.

Originally designed for EnCana Corporation, the development was sold in February to H & R Real Estate Investment Trust.

The crescent shaped steel and glass building is designed by the renowned Foster & Associates of the United Kingdom. Halcrow Yolles is the structural engineer. A New York company, Cosentini Associates, is doing the mechanical and electrical design.

Taking up almost two city blocks, the development is between 5th and 7th Avenues, and between Centre and 1st Street S.E. The office tower is on the north block and will contain 1.84 million square feet, to be occupied by EnCana.

Twisted Sisters tied up

In Halifax heritage groups are objecting to two 27-storey towers proposed for the old Tex-Park site. The towers, nicknamed the “Twisted Sisters,” were approved by the Halifax regional council last year but local heritage groups have appealed to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. The board is conducting hearings and may not make a decision before September. Hariri Pontarini architects did the conceptual design. Engineering consultants are not yet involved.

ACTION

Marching to end poverty

Engineers Without Borders ran a public relations blitz on March 1 to draw attention to the need to end extreme poverty. The student volunteer organization handed out 70,000 mock newspapers dated 2025 in large cities across Canada. At the University of Toronto they hung a banner on Convocation Hall, and led an Engineering Marching Band around the St. George Street campus.

COMPANIES

Canadians buy into U.S.

Conestoga-Rovers & Associates of Waterloo, Ontario has acquired Cambria Environmental Technology of Emeryville, California. The U.S. firm has a workforce of 120 people.

Stantec has signed a letter of intent to acquire Vollmer Associates LLP. Based in New York City. Vollmer is a 650-person multi-disciplinary firm that focuses on the transportation sector.

AWARDS

Consulting Engineers of Alberta held its 2007 Showcase Awards on Friday, February 2 at the Calgary Stampede Roundup Centre.

His Honour Norman L. Kwong presented the first Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Award for Distinguished Achievement to Ron Triffo.

The companies and 12 projects that won awards of excellence are:

* A.D. Williams Engineering, Long Term Power Generation Planning Study (natural resources).

* Associated Engineering, Mill Creek Roper Pond (sustainable design).

* BPTEC-DNW Engineering, Yellowhead Trail, 156th Street Interchange (transportation).

* Bel-MK Engineering, Recycled Wastewater Pipeline (water resources).

* Cohos Evamy, PCL Centennial Learning Centre (buildings)

* Golder Associates, Yellow River Water Resources & Flood Management(international).

* Stantec Consulting, Easthill Stormwater Infrastructure Improvements (environmental); National Institute for Nanotechnology (project management); and Mount Royal College Learning Centre (buildings).

* UMA Engineering, Northwest Regional Utility Study (project management); and Village at Griesbach Stages 1-4 (community development).

* Urban Systems, People Development Program (in-house initiatives).

POWER

Eastmain 1-A under way in Quebec

Hydro-Quebec is proceeding with the massive Eastmain-1 hydroelectric development in the James Bay region. In November the utility received a certificate of authorization from the province to go ahead with constructing the powerhouse and diverting the Rupert River. The $5-billion project in northern Quebec is the province’s largest hydroelectric project in a decade. When completed, it will generate approximately 900 MW of power. The construction involves four dams and 72 dikes, and will flood 188 square kilometres of land along the river.

The Cree nation has been divided over the development, but a bipartite Quebec-Cree agency called Comex unanimously recommended in favour of the project last fall. However, Hydro Quebec has to meet 97 recommendations to mitigate the environmental impacts.

PEOPLE

Hector Jacques honoured

The co-founder of consulting engineering company Jacques Whitford of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, has been appointed to the Order of Canada. Hector Jacques has been elected as an Officer for his outstanding contributions to the field of engineering.

BOOKS

Tipon: Water Engineering Masterpiece of the Inca Empire

By Kenneth R. Wright, P.E., L.S. (2006: ASCE Press)

Review by Chris Newcomb, P.Eng.

Tipon is a fascinating Inca archeological site in the southern Peruvian Andes, less well known than the nearby tourist attractions of Machu Picchu and Sacsayhuaman, which date from the same epoch five centuries ago. Tipon is a 500-acre agricultural estate with amazingly well-preserved buildings, plazas, terraced fields, waterworks, irrigation systems and fountains that are integrated with the landscape in a spectacular illustration of pre-historic engineering, architecture, community planning and construction prowess.

Wright’s book is clearly a labour of love, the culmination of years of dedicated research and analysis. Through photographs and sketches, supplemented by meticulous measurement, observation and calculation, he demonstrates how Inca society understood hydraulics, hydrology, irrigation and soil stability.

He also describes with some passion how the Inca went beyond pure engineering to combine beauty and harmony with function. Additional chapters by his co-authors on the history of Andean culture and a walking tour of the site combine to make the book an interesting read for engineers and lovers of history.

While there is much to admire in this publication, I felt that more could have been done to do justice to the topic. The site continued to be farmed by the indigenous population until recently, yet the book makes little mention of these people. I found myself wanting to know more about these descendents of the Inca, their culture, traditions and oral history, and what light these might cast on the lives of their ancestors.

I must also comment on the style and composition. At times I felt that I was reading a technical report written by an engineer, intent on presenting the facts in an orderly fashion, but lacking a sense of narrative. I could well imagine the excitement the author and his colleagues must have felt as they pieced together the archeological clues to discover the engineering genius of the Inca, yet this story is not told. I think the book would have benefited from the involvement of a professional writer or historian to introduce a more engaging story line and writing style.

Chris Newcomb is president of McElhanney Consulting Services in Vancouver.

QUOTE

The politics of infrastructure

“Most capital spending is for short-term rehabilitation and renewal, even though longer-term projects might generate greater net benefits. This arises because municipal politicians tend to be interested in projects whose time horizons coincide with their terms of office. — “City Financing for Infrastructure Projects Needs Repair,” — C.D. Howe Institute, December 19, 2006.

HISTORY

Call for Pioneers

The HVACR Heritage Centre Canada wants suggestions for its Hall of Fame of people and businesses who have made historic contributions to the i
ndustry in Canada. The organization, founded in 1999 issues a newsletter and has a virtual museum at www.hhc-canada.net.

POWER

Nuclear in China

AMEC has signed a two-year agreement with China’s Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Company to provide operational support on their two CANDU nuclear power plants. The Qinshan plants began operating in 2002-3 and are located in Zhejiang province, on the southeastern coast of China.


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