Canadian Consulting Engineer

What’s New… (April 01, 2005)

April 1, 2005
By Canadian Consulting Engineer



Frocks and Gates of New York

Artists and engineers don’t always seem to have a lot in common, but two Ontario consulting firms have been helping to support the ideas of their less mathematically inclined friends.

Halsall Associates designed a 10.5-m tall “Big Frock” that was installed at the National Trade Centre in Toronto for the Interior Design Show in February. The installation, designed by Brown and Storey Architects and Alsop, invited visitors to enter “a concept space” beneath the skirt. The structure of the skirt was steel rings connected with rods and cables that managed to sway and achieve a motion just like a real garment. The Halsall team included Shahe Sagharian, Ken Sissakis and Kelvin Leong.

On an even larger scale, Rowan Williams Irving Davies of Guelph, Ontario helped realize Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “Gates of New York” that was installed in Central Park for 16 days in February. The installation involved 7,500 arches hung with bright yellow fabric, which RWDI tested in its wind laboratory. Mark Hunter was in charge. This is the third time that RWDI has worked with Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who have been famous since the 1960s for works such as wrapping the Pont du Neuf bridge in Paris (1985) and draping eleven Florida islands in pink fabric.


Edmonton’s pyramid damaged

One of two large glass pyramid roofs on Edmonton City Hall, built during the 1990s, was damaged during a storm in late December. Winds with speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour whipped through the city and shattered about 120 panes of glass, each around 2 x 3 metres in size. The public space in the city hall below the pyramid, which soars 40 metres high, was closed off to visitors, but the inner roof layer held firm and no glass fell inside.

Terry Loat, manager of Land and Buildings at the City of Edmonton, says the failure was not a design fault, but rather the impact of the extreme meteorological conditions. The storm damaged several other buildings in the city and was considered a 1-in-200 year event. The city called on the city hall’s original architect, Jean Dub, to help decide what remedial action needed to be taken. Repairs are to cost approximately $685,000.


Alberta consultants celebrate

Consulting Engineers of Alberta have announced the winners of their 2005 Showcase Awards. Awards of Excellence were given to the following: Associated Engineering and AMEC Earth & Environmental, for the CNRL Horizon Access Road and Bridge, South Section; Associated Engineering for the Big Lake Basin Drainage Study; Earth Tech Canada for the An Numanlyah Military Base Rebuild; Ready Engineering for the ABACAS at TransAlta’s Sundance plant, Stewart Weir Group for Building a First Nation Legacy; Stantec Consulting for the Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant Centre of Excellence; UMA Engineering/Stantec Consulting for the South Light Rail Transit Extension, Tunnel and Portal.


Engineers study tsunami effects

A group from the American Society of Civil Engineers has visited Thailand to study the effects of the December 26 tsunami. The disaster killed more than 200,000 people in 11 nations around the Indian Ocean and reduced entire areas to rubble.

Preliminary findings by a member of the group, Robert A. Dalrymple of John Hopkins University, suggested that simple design features played a role in how well structures survived. For example, they found that elevated structures with open first floors that allowed the waves to pass through fared better than buildings with solid walls. Reinforced concrete structures survived better than masonry and wooden structures. Orientation was also important; walls facing the ocean were more likely to crumble from the impact of the waves than those oriented in the direction of the flow.


Alberta SuperNet reaches far north

Morrison Hershfield consultants designed and managed construction of the wireless portion of the Alberta SuperNET, the broadband network that the province of Alberta is building to reach every community in the province. The network has connections in over 400 communities and involves 20,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable and 2,000 kilometres of wireless links. Morrison Hershfield was contracted by Bell for the wireless portion.

The most remote community the wireless connection had to reach was Fort Chipewyan, 220 kilometres north of Fort McMurray on Lake Athabasca below the 60th parallel. The 121-kilometre wireless link from the Birch Mountain repeater to Fort Chipewyan is believed to be the longest link of its kind.

Wal-Mart finds the environment

In its effort to move into downtown Vancouver, Wal-Mart is proposing to transform its big box standard structure into a showcase of green design. Drawings of the planned outlet published in the Globe and Mail show wind turbines to drive the mechanical systems, climate controlled skylights and ground source heating and cooling.

SNC-Lavalin in Algeria

SNC-Lavalin has won a $750-million fixed price contract to design and build a 600,000-m3/day water treatment plant and pumping station at Taksebt in Algeria. The project also involves 90 kilometres of pipe and four tunnels 11-kilometres long. The system will serve three provinces as well as Algiers, 100 kilometres to the west. The Montreal company will operate the facilities for five years.

Dessau-Soprin designs Venezuela dam

Dessau-Soprin of Montreal is to do the engineering, procurement and construction management of a large dam on the Maya River in Venezuela. The dam is a roller-compacted concrete structure to be built over 36 months starting this spring. Dessau-Soprin’s contract is with the Venezuela Ministry of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources for $80 million.

B.C. schools need work

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced the first 80 schools that will be upgraded as part of a $1.5 billion program for seismic improvements. Last summer, engineers assessed 800 schools in 37 school districts and found that many would be at risk during a major earthquake.

Oceanographers find global warming

A day after the Kyoto Protocol came into force on February 16, strong evidence emerged that greenhouse gases produced by human activity are having a profound effect on the environment. Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography were “stunned” by how accurately field temperature and salinity measurements taken over 40 years matched their computer models. See


Bill Chisholm, P.Eng. of Associated Engineering has moved to the Calgary office and Bill DeAngelis, P.Eng. has joined the firm as head of the Ontario operation. Dan Butler, P.Eng., head of security and IT at Marshall Macklin Monaghan of Toronto, is now a partner. Also made partners at MMM are Chris Gauer, P.Eng., Joe Sframeli, P.Eng. and Janine Turner, P.Eng. Dr. Dennis Becker of Golder’s Calgary office is the new president of the Canadian Geotechnical Society.


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