May 25, 2012

Construction of the striking aquatics centre roof in St.Catharines


Construction of the striking aquatics centre roof in St.Catharines.


Steel and wood join forces for pool, library in St. Catharines, Ontario

One of the most striking features of St. Catharines’ Kiwanis Aquatics Centre and Public Library is the marriage of steel and glulam beams supporting the facility’s roof.

Steel and wood contractors worked closely together to assemble the materials according to the centre’s exacting design.

The centre will cover 48,000-square-feet with approximately 7,000-square-feet allocated to the library branch. It features a double-pool design, including a 25-metre, eight-lane, rectangular lap pool and built-in poolside bleachers and an irregularly shaped leisure pool.

Budgeted at $19.57 million, the government of Ontario contributed $4.5 million to the project under the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative. The city chose architectural firm Shore, Tilbe, Perkins and Will to design the facility.

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It’s the first municipal facility in the city to follow the Canada Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, aiming for a minimum of LEED Silver certification.

The city selected general contractor Bondfield Construction Company, Ltd. of Concord to complete construction, which began in June 2010.

The design features steel supporting posts, many set into structural concrete posts.

“Basically, the design involves steel structure on the library side of the building and over the swimming pool change rooms, and then a series of support columns for the glulam beams,” says Jason Bradshaw, owner of Niagara Falls-based Bradshaw Iron.

“Most of the steel work was completed last year and typically it’s time to install the steel just as the snow falls. This was no exception.”

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Bradshaw Iron fabricated the steel posts in its own facility to the exacting specifications required by the architects.

“There were multiple roof lines in the design and in each case the glulam beams had to fit over top of our steel columns, by matching them to pre-drilled holes in the wooden beams,” says Bradshaw.

“It had to be exact because it was a 250-mm hole fitting over a 250-mm column. They had to lower each beam perpendicular to the columns to make sure that it didn’t bind. The woodworking crews can’t cut and paste the way the steel contractor can.”

Depending on the location, the beams sat on two, three or four steel posts.

The woodwork was installed by Steel City Millwork of Cayuga, Ont.

“The beams were 3.5 feet deep, 1.5 feet wide and 120 feet long,” says Steel City owner John Williams. “The beams acted as trusses with the addition of a system of hardened steel Macalloy tension rods and king posts.”

Both contractors remained on site together during the installation of the beams.

“We sorted out the bugs between us, and the co-ordination resulted in a very slick operation,” says Bradshaw.

“While the visible steel was welded together to make it look pretty, many of the steel connections that can’t be seen were connected like a Meccano toy set, with nuts and bolts. As the beams were settled down, we would tweak the anchor bolts, let them place the beam, then tighten them up again.”

Staging was an important feature of the contract. Bradshaw’s crew of seven worked on the project off and on for roughly a year, installing steel in stages as new beams were erected, and closing up gaps in the structural steel walls as construction equipment left the project site.

Only the final beam required a little extra work.

“They had to auger out the hole just a little for the last one to fit over the post,” says Bradshaw.

“That’s a testament to good communication between contractors, especially considering the complexity of the design.”

Building construction is expected to conclude in late June of this year.

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