Photo: Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo

Top Projects 2015: Shell Place


Fort McMurray has always suffered from an undeserved reputation as a great place to work, but not such a great place to live due to a lack of amenities. The opening of Shell Place should finally put this old saw to rest.

Shell Place is a $127-million expansion project at MacDonald Island Park and includes the SMS Equipment Stadium, the CNOOC Nexen Stage, the Redpoll Centre (a social profit shared space), a baseball stadium, a grand ballroom, an indoor turf field house and a badminton centre, among other amenities. The groundbreaking for the project took place in the fall of 2012. It’s official opening was marked on June 12, 2015.

The design of Shell Place incorporates Wood Buffalo’s concept of Fort McMurray as a winter city by leveraging large open spaces that can be used in both winter and summer and which access indoor facilities that blur the line between inside and out. Its most iconic feature, the undulating 45-foot tall tensile membrane canopy covering the stage, is inspired by both the northern lights and curving snow drifts.

Driving the design was a series of community engagements with the citizens of Wood Buffalo spurred by the MacDonald Island Park board of directors to see what the public wanted out of the project. The consultations came back with three recommendations: build a world-class development for a liveable city centre, produce a community-led project based on collaboration and ensure the expansion meets the community’s needs both now and in the future.

Shell Place was designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. To meet the requirements, mechanical and electrical systems were upgraded, and a SolarWall was installed that heats air before it goes into the heating system to reduce energy usage. Heat recovery units were also used to recover heat in winter months and to help cool the facilities in the summer months, again reducing energy requirements.

The stadium was constructed using structural steel rather than cast-in-place concrete, contributing to the LEED recycling requirements. The bleachers used structural steel raker beams with precast concrete riser sections to reduce the amount of cast-in-place concrete on the project.

The final guaranteed maximum price for construction provided by Clark Builders and Turner Construction was $107.9 million with soft costs associated with furniture, fixtures and equipment bringing the total to $127 million.

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