Quadrangle Architects Limited unveils Ontario’s first seven LEED Silver highway service centres

Quadrangle Architects celebrates the opening of the new, modern highway service centres along Ontario’s Highways 400 and 401. Seven out of the 20 service centres have been completed. Designed by Quadrangle Architects Limited, built by EllisDon Corporation and operated by Host Kilmer Service Centres Inc., the fully functional service centres offer enhanced services and an aesthetically pleasing experience to the travelling public.

“We were able to create visually inspiring and regionally identifiable service centres that leverage the Ontario brand to the travelling public,” said Les Klein, principal, Quadrangle Architects Limited. “And, most importantly, its green features are adaptable to the needs of travellers in the future.”

Quadrangle’s inspiration for the Ontario Highway Service Centres is rooted in the imagery of rock outcroppings in Ontario’s landscape. Working in harmony with each other, the striking architectural buildings function as identifiable symbols for the service centre experience throughout the province. Each centre’s unique locality is represented through mounted screens in the local seating area which showcase picturesque regional images. Digital media will also promote local attractions and events. The designs for all three sizes of centres incorporate three distinct elements – a glass atrium with sloped glass walls covered by a sloped metal roof; traditional indigenous stone walls; and wood trellises and canopies.

In addition to designing the centres to target Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification standards, Quadrangle created and implemented a durability plan to ensure that the buildings are designed and built to last the intended service life of 50 years.

Environmentally responsible and sustainable design features can be found all through each of the service centres. In the washrooms, water usage is reduced by more than 40 percent by using waterless urinals, low consumption toilets and touchless faucet fixtures. To optimize energy performance throughout, the buildings are equipped with a well-insulated, air-tight building envelope; high-performance thermally broken glazing units; and lighting systems which incorporate high-efficiency fixtures and daylight sensors in the main public area.

Natural daylight is provided for 75 percent of occupied spaces by strategically placed skylights and by large expanses of fritted glazing in the main public area. To minimize glare, roller shades and wood overhangs are used, along with ceramic frit on all sloped glazing. A high-reflectance, high-emissivity roof is provided over the entire building.

All highway service centre sites are constructed on remediated brownfield sites. This ensures that existing hazardous materials are removed from the site and the new structures are not built on greenfield sites. Resources used to build the service centres are targeting a minimum of 20 per cent regional materials and 15 percent recycled content. Green education will be a visible part of all service centres, providing access to information about sustainable building systems to the hundreds of thousand visitors that pass through each year.

To make these centres distinctive from other highway service centres in Canada, Quadrangle incorporated a broad range of accessibility and universal design measures in the new facilities, to accommodate all visitors of varying abilities.

“We’re proud of the fact that these service centres better accommodate multigenerational travellers,” said Klein. “It’s essential that all visitors are able to make the most out of their stop-over.”

Each centre has a continuous route from the accessible parking area and passenger drop-off area to all spaces within the facility. Glazed doors and sidelights are clearly identified with custom-designed high-contrast visibility strips to accommodate people of all heights. To avoid trip hazards, there are no stairs in any of the centres.

To enhance mobility, all corridors are a minimum of 1,370mm wide and there are turning areas with a 2,000mm diameter to cater to people using wheelchairs, scooters or other assistive devices. All service counters are designed with one 1,100mm-wide counter at a height useable by persons in wheelchairs. To prevent slip hazards, a matte finish porcelain tile with a high coefficient of friction is used throughout the centres. Mosaic tiles of a contrasting colour serve as a detectable warning surface at the sloped glazing as well as to indicate changes in direction.

Universally accessible drinking fountains and telephones are also provided. Telephones include a teletypewriter (TTY), a longer cord and an added shelf to support a telecommunications device (TTD) for the deaf.

Unisex family washrooms are available and are complete with a universally accessible sink and toilet with flip-down grab bars, automatic door operators and a motorized, adjustable adult-sized change table. High contrast colours were also used to define the boundary between the wall and the floor. The doors are locked with an electronic locking device and provide a visual sign to persons waiting outside that the room is occupied.

Signage, designed by Bruce Mau Design, uses sans-serif font with simple, uncluttered language and graphics. All signage has sharp colour contrast for easier reading as well as universal cultural symbols, raised tactile lettering and Braille.

For more information on Quadrangle Architects Limited, please visit www.quadrangle.ca.