Canadian Architect

Feature

Concrete Solutions

A Construction Company Enjoys The Benefits Of Commissioning Its Own Training Facility With A Focus On Honest Detailing, Sustainability And Landscape Architectural Elements.

March 1, 2008
by Canadian Architect

PROJECT Pcl Centennial Learning Centre, Edmonton, Alberta

ARCHITECT Cohos Evamy Integratedesign

TEXT Shafraaz Kaba

PHOTOS Tom Arban

PCL Construction has grown from a small contracting company in Stoughton, Saskatchewan to the eighth-largest contractor in North America. Their LEED Gold-certified Edmonton headquarters–named the PCL Centennial Learning Centre–is a renovated and expanded facility marking their 100 years in business.

E. E. Poole General Contractor was founded in 1906 by Ernest Poole, who later moved the com-pany from Stoughton to Regina, and then to Edmonton in 1932 where he would eventually sell the firm to his sons George and John in 1948. Known as Poole’s Rules, a list of guidelines created by Poole from which to run his company included pronouncements such as, “Avoid jobs where design is not good or financing doubtful. Let your competitors have these.” In 1977, Poole Construction Limited became an employeeowned company called PCL Construction Holdings. Every year since 1977, PCL has shown remarkable growth and is now owned by its 1,700 salaried workers, who are in 27 locations across North America.

The building of the PCL Centennial Learning Centre (CLC) was led by Vice President Alan Bodie, who stressed that, “it was about the people rather than the select few at the top.” The CLC is a building that links several existing structures in the PCL Business Park. One of the early buildings on the campus is a bermed, low-profile design by Peter Hemingway, one of Edmonton’s most celebrated architects. PCL engaged Cohos Evamy to create a new master plan for the site and to design the first phase, which resulted in the CLC. Architect Stephen Boyd was the project designer and partner in charge.

Utilizing concrete and a curtain-wall system, the CLC provided PCL with a new front door and reception area befitting the largest contractor in Canada. It expressed the materials that PCL has mastered–namely concrete, steel and glass. As a “college of construction,” it provides training rooms as well as distance education facilities for remote sites and offices. But the most striking aspect of the facility is the Grand Hall, a threestorey-high space that provides the company with a gathering place for staff events and training, opening up to a new courtyard designed by landscape architect Doug Carlyle of Carlyle + Associates. The scale of the Grand Hall is not overwhelming but welcoming, and is flooded with natural light, which continues along the curtain-wall spine that acts as a solar chimney, one of the many integrated strategies that allowed the building to achieve a high level in Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certification.

“I had never heard of LEED, but our buildings group began to hear about it about the time we started design. We considered it for a while when Cohos Evamy brought the program to us, but we decided not to do it. But it wasn’t six months down the road when all the noise about sustainable building began to build, and we reversed our decision,” states Bodie, remarking on the move towards applying for certification. The architects’ inherent integrated design process is what helped the CLC building navigate through a one-year design and documents phase with minimal fuss over the change to a LEED project. Bodie believes the construction requirements to achieve particular LEED credits were not out of line with PCL’s regular construction procedure, and added, “The construction standards are really no different than what we would have normally done with a very particular owner.” The CLC was the first LEED project for PCL, but like all new skills, after rising above the learning curve, subsequent projects became straightforward. “The administration load was high because it was the first, but once you’ve gone through the process, it gets easier. For us, it was part of the cost of doing business,” explains Bodie.

Along with the solar chimney, the CLC incorporated many sustainable and healthy building practices. The curtain wall was a triple glazed, low-E thermally broken product with operable windows. An astounding 96 percent of construction waste was diverted from the landfill during the two-year building process. “The segregation of materials doesn’t really cost you anything and the subcontractors were right on board, too,” says Bodie. Daylighting is actively employed throughout the building, but where necessary, electric fixtures are carefully chosen to provide just enough light. “I like what LEED encourages you to do with lighting, rather than blinding you with overlit spaces.” Throughout the project, the LEED rating system was not driving the details. Rather, good design simply balanced the building aspects of sustainability, usability and aesthetics.

The fact that Canada’s largest contractor created a LEED Gold legacy project for the training and development of their staff is an inspiration to the building and construction industry. Many requests have been made to PCL Construction from outside the company for the use of the Grand Hall since the building opened. This building does exactly what the LEED program hoped to achieve–that is, to create a market

Opposite, Left To Right Prairie Sun Fills The Atrium Leading Past The Main Reception Area; The Campus Courtyard Adjacent To The Grand Hall Provides A Wonderful Outdoor Space For Staff And Visitors Alike.

transformation tool that shows how sustainable buildings are possible, how they are healthier and more efficient, and above all, how they can function as places of delight for their occupants and the public. The Centennial Learning Centre is a courageous and confident building that would make PCL founder Ernest Poole proud.CA

Shafraaz Kaba is a partner with Manasc Isaac Architects in Edmonton and a founding member of the Media, Art and Design Exposed (M. A. D. E.) in Edmonton Society.

——————-

CLIENT PCL CONSTRUCTION RESOURCES INC.

ARCHITECT TEAM TOM SUTHERLAND, STEPHEN BOYD, DAN HUNKA, KEITH ROBINSON, NORA HARTFELDER, JAROMIR KOZAK, CAROLE HOVELAND

STRUCTURAL COHOS EVAMY INTEGRATEDESIGN (JIM MONTGOMERY, JEFF DIBATTISTA, CAMERON FRANCHUK, KRIS LIMA)

MECHANICAL COHOS EVAMY INTEGRATEDESIGN (DALE KNUTSON, DON FOX, JOHN SCHULTZ)

ELECTRICAL COHOS EVAMY INTEGRATEDESIGN (ED PON, HARSHAD PATEL)

INTERIORS COHOS EVAMY INTEGRATEDESIGN (MICHELLE SIGURDSON, CINDY LEE)

LANDSCAPE CARLYLE + ASSOCIATES

BUILDER PCL CONSTRUCTORS INC.

AREA 2,430 M2

BUDGET $12 M

COMPLETION JUNE 2006




Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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