The three linked buildings that make up the SAIT Trades and Technology Complex are Alberta Construction Magazine's Project of the Year, chosen from the winners of all categories after a secret-ballot vote by a panel of five judges.
The $400-million project is a winner for many reasons. From concept and design to construction, the complex, which opened to students in late summer, has been a showcase for innovation and collaboration. With 56 classrooms, 94 teaching laboratories/ workshops and three new schools of learning, as well as teaching opportunities through- out the complex, the complex also has potential capacity for an additional 8,100 students, helping ensure the construction industry has skilled, knowledgeable labour for years to come.
Throughout the project, PCL Construction Management Inc. worked as a team with the owner, design team and subtrades to maximize project value and meet schedule milestones, including identifying value-engineering opportunities that fit with the design during pre-construction. As a result, the massive project came in on time and under budget.
In addition to its distinction as Project of the Year, the Trades and Technology Complex also won in the Institutional-Over $50 Million and Design-Institutional categories.
Old meets new
Lead designer Gibbs Gage Architects designed the buildings to emphasize innovative, flexible and a more-integrated approach to trades and technical training, intended to reflect real workplaces.
The team was challenged to design a space equipped with practical and flexible learning environments for today's students and students of the future, while at the same time respecting SAIT Polytechnic's Campus Master Plan and incorporating a high level of reverence to the unique and collegiate architecture of Heritage Hall, a historical and inspirational focal point at the heart of the campus.
As a result, the new structures incorporate bricks, echoing the cadence of the Heritage Hall pillars while employing a modern language through materials such as glass, aluminum, terra cotta and through design elements such as waves, angles and swooshes. The terra cotta cladding is a symbol of the traditional, while the curvilinear metal and membrane roof on the Aldred Centre-with its eye-catching, undulating, wavy shape-suggests innovation and represents the waves of the future.
That wavy roof isn't just decorative. The white surface reflects heat and air handlers are built into the crests of the waves. Where the waves dip, runoff water is collected. The water can then be stored underground and emptied into the storm water system in a manner that won't tax the system.
The architectural theme during design and construction was "pedagogy," the art or science of teaching. As a result, the complex-which, of course, includes the new School of Construction-itself can be used as a teaching tool to enhance the learning experience of students.
Structural, mechanical and electrical details that are typically concealed have been left exposed in the classrooms, labs and public spaces, allowing students the opportunity to see and understand the systems and concepts taught in the classroom. Other building systems and equipment usually hidden behind walls and doors are on display behind glass windows, giving students a close-up view of areas like mechanical rooms, electrical closets or elevator shafts.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-accredited complex, which is comprised of 70,000 square metres (753,000 square feet) of training space and includes an extensive underground services and site works component, was built with sustainability in mind.
PCL set a target of diverting a minimum of 75 per cent of construction, demolition and land-clearing waste from the landfill by developing and implementing a waste management plan for recycling and salvaging materials. When the project was nominated, PCL was on track to achieve over 90 per cent of all waste being diverted from landfill and sent to recycling facilities.
The project also incorporates materials with recycled content; the sum of post-consumer recycled content plus half of the pre-consumer content is at least 20 per cent, based on cost, of the total value of the materials in the project. The recycled content value of a material was determined by weight; the recycled fraction of the assembly was then multiplied by the cost of assembly to determine the recycled content value.
Incorporating recycled content into the project reduces the impact from extracting and processing virgin materials. The project achieved maximum LEED points, and Exemplary Performance points and recognition, for including these materials.
Using regional materials was another high priority. At least 30 per cent of the incorporated building materials or products used were extracted, harvested, recovered or processed within 800 kilometres (2,400 kilometres if by rail or water) of the final manufacturing site.
The commitment to using regional materials supported the local economy and reduced environmental impacts resulting from transportation. Again, the project achieved maximum LEED points, and Exemplary Performance points and recognition, for including these materials.
Using building information modelling, a digital 3-D model of an entire building or of select building components could be created to ensure fully integrated solutions were developed prior to tendering and construction.
Another program, called Navisworks, was used to ensure quality communication of model specifics, allowing problems to be identified and resolved before the start of construction. The benefits of resolving these potential problems early in the process include significant cost savings during construction due to reduced on-site issues or required change orders, and elimination of the risk that compromises have to be made if a problem is noticed too late in the construction process.
A picture is worth a thousand words
Another technology was used to not only assist with the construction process, but to provide a record of what's been done if changes or additions are made to the building systems in the future.
An advanced photographic as-built platform through Multivista was used to create a visual construction documentation of the concrete structure. Over the course of construction, photographs of the reinforcing steel and in-slab mechanical and electrical rough-in were taken at regular intervals to record a visual as-built of the concrete slabs.
All photographs were catalogued and documented within an interactive, digital, web-based documentation platform. The photos are available in inspection-grade detail and indexed according to the architectural drawings by date.
The system gave the construction team quick and easy access to the photographs so members could locate in-slab conflicts before laying out additional coring required due to changes. It will also serve as a permanent photographic record of the project for the owner to use should additional coring be required in the future.
SAIT's new complex is already capturing attention. This summer, KPMG LLP named the complex one of the most innovative and exciting urban infrastructure projects in the world in its Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition.
The publication recognizes innovative infrastructure that contributes to the economy, job creation and long-term impact while keeping people, the environment and economic issues in mind. SAIT's Trades and Technology Complex won in the Education category for its emphasis on vocational training.
The Trades and Technology Complex was SAIT's largest campus expansion in its almost 100-year history. SAIT broke ground in 2009, and construction started in January 2010. After more than two million labour hours and a lot of hard work and commitment, all phases and site work were completed by the time students returned to class in August.
Today, these three buildings are filled with the people who will one day lead the construction industry and help ensure that Alberta continues to grow and prosper.