Top Projects 2007: Commerical/Winner


Construction companies are used to working with limitations. But some limitations are more unusual than others.

Take the case of this year's Top Project in the Commercial category, Elephant Crossing.

"It had to be built while the elephants remained in the space," explains Don Peterkin, director of planning and facility operations of the Calgary Zoo's new exhibit.

Zoo spokeswoman Laurie Herron says, "It did take creativity and a great deal of cooperation between our elephant care team and the construction folks regarding scheduling, etc."

One of the goals for the Elephant Crossing is to enhance the zoo's ability to participate in the Species Survival Plan, an endangered species-breeding program for Asian elephants. According to the WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund), there are fewer than 50,000 Asian elephants left in the world.

The Calgary Zoo is home to five Asian elephants. The newest addition, Malti, was born in August. The gestation period for an elephant is about 22 months. Malti's mother was pregnant throughout the entire construction period. The project was completed in June.

GEC Architecture of Calgary designed the $11.5-million project. Elephant Crossing replaced an older structure that had been constructed in three stages, with the oldest section built in 1964.

About 75 per cent of the old structure had to be demolished. All the while, general contractor PCL Construction Management Inc. had to work around the elephants as it built a 5,100 sq. m elephant yard and a 398 sq. m exterior amphitheatre, as well as the 1,632 sq. m building that houses the new pool area, mechanical room, amphitheatre, and meeting hall.

Peterkin says the zoo expects energy costs for the new facility to drop 60 per cent. The zoo is seeking LEED Silver certification for the project.

Herron says the elephants seemed to take an interest in the work.

"Being highly intelligent animals, they could often be seen watching the construction equipment and workers very closely," she says.

"I recall one day when heavy equipment was literally pulling down the back of the building, resulting in a lot of noise and commotion. One might have expected the elephants to move away from the noise and equipment, but, to my surprise, all four elephants were lined up at the fence with their tails to the public watching the demolition."


The Lacombe Memorial Centre-a $7-million project involving new construction as well as the addition and alteration of existing space-provides an expanded, state-of-the-art space for private and public events in the town of Lacombe.

Designed by Bearden Engineering Consultants Ltd. of Red Deer, the facility not only fits with the downtown's architecture, but its flexible design means that several events can be held on-site simultaneously. Highlights include a commercial-quality food preparation facility; more space for the library, which is integrated; new offices for Lacombe Family & Community Support Services; and a fireside lounge with a view of nearby Lest We Forget Park.

Energy efficiency was not an afterthought in the building's design and construction. Among the innovations: solar energy is used to heat water; the centre uses waterless urinals; and storm water is recycled.

Goldwing Construction Inc. of Edmonton was the general contractor.


Calgary Co-op's new $7.9 million office expansion allowed general contractor CANA to build on a project it completed five years ago. That project included the demolition of a 40-year-old Calgary shopping centre and construction of a food store and two-level retail centre.

This project, a vertical office expansion, adds two floors above the retail centre as well as interior improvements to 7,000 sq. ft of the existing building. One of the challenges CANA faced was that work had to go on with minimal disruption to retail centre tenants.

One of the largest retail co-operatives in North America, Calgary Co-op is counting on the new space to help it accommodate future growth by utilizing movable wall partitions throughout the building for future offices.

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