June 2013

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photos courtesy Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health by Angela Altass he Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa has a new look thanks to a $16-million expansion/renovation project. "The project was initiated to address the ever-increasing need for more space for the Wabano Centre to provide health and community services to the aboriginal community," says Mark Conley, principal, Cardinal Conley & Associates Inc. "It was critical to provide a space that evoked and demonstrated the cultural values of this community." Themes such as earth, water, fire and sky are utilized throughout the facility, says Conley. "The undulating exterior facade is meant to represent flowing water, which is a strong symbol of life," says Conley. "The dome roof over the central gathering space is supported by 13 columns, representing the lunar cycles. The ceiling of the dome is painted in four quadrants of red, yellow, white and black to indicate the four directions. Coloured tiles on the floor form a traditional star blanket pattern with the eight-point morning star representing a new beginning." The 30,000 square feet of new construction and renovations to 15,000 square feet of existing space were carried out with a strict budget in mind. "It was a fairly difficult project with a very limited budget," says project manager Ken Villiers. "We had to be very careful in how money was spent and there were a lot of surprises in the old existing building. It hadn't had much done to it for years, or if it had something done it was done in a very haphazard manner, and a lot of it didn't meet code." There were some delays due to weather and some issues with the soil T Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health p88-89Wabano.indd 89 that affected the schedule, says Villiers. The soil was contaminated from spills from oil tanks that were used to heat houses years ago, adds Allison Fisher, executive director, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, who notes that the City of Ottawa removed the contaminated soil. "This project incorporated both an extensive renovation to the owner's existing facility and a significant addition. The major challenge was to ensure that the original curvilinear design and culturally significant architectural features were detailed and constructed with sensitivity while respecting the budgetary constraints," says Conley. "Ensuring that all of the client's program requirements were incorporated, that the facility was functional, and that both the interior and exterior spaces represented the aboriginal community's cultural values was paramount to ensuring a successful end result," adds Conley. A key interior feature is the main ceremonial gathering space consisting of a two-storey domed space with a secondlevel mezzanine. The cultural gathering space, which can seat 250 people for dinner, had some rental bookings even before the May 9 grand opening, says Carlie Chase, director of fundraising, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Heath. "The exterior features an undulating glass facade, which transitions from forming part of the exterior envelope in some areas and being suspended outside of the building's envelope in other areas," says Conley. The suspended exterior glass is a unique feature that blends the existing building with the new structure, says Miguel Lafleche, project engineer with PCL Constructors Canada Inc. "This was tricky work as the steel members were rolled to a specific radius with little tolerance in order to match with the glazing system," says Lafleche. "The main entrance has a wow factor as well in which the circular planters are capped with limestone precut from the supplier, which allowed little room for error when pouring the concrete walls." The existing structure remained operational for the majority of the project. The project was challenging and very unique due to the flow and shape of the new building merging with the existing building configuration, says Grazyna Materna, VP, John G. Cooke & Associates Ltd. "Challenges included the design of open spaces to suit the architect and client's vision for the aboriginal facilities, as well as a tight construction site with close adjacent structures," says Materna. Design challenges included masking of mechanical components so as to not affect the architectural characteristic of the building while maintaining good engineering practices, says Ryan Leonard, mechanical engineer, Goodkey, Weedmark & Associates Limited. "Mechanical features include infloor radiant hot water heating along perimeter spaces to provide optimal thermal comfort to the occupants," says Leonard. "The main assembly cultural space is served by an energy recovery unit that provides a high volume of fresh air for better indoor air quality. At the same time it recovers heat which would otherwise be exhausted from the space, thus saving energy. It has a dedicated smoke excavation system which was provided to meet code requirements of the multilevel space. The system also serves as a method of extracting builtup smoke from smudging or other cultural ceremonies." The site created some difficulties in terms of sloping grade, which resulted in low ceiling heights in the parking garage, adds Leonard. "The biggest challenges are the currently incomplete concepts of a central water feature on level one and a firepit feature on level two," says Leonard. Chase and Fisher reflect back to when they first started discussing the project. "It was two women sitting at the back of an old two-storey building who just said 'We're going to do this', and then with the help of our board, community and a strong team it happened," says Fisher. n Location 299 Montreal Road, Ottawa, Ontario Owner Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health Project Manager KG Villiers Consulting Inc. Architect Cardinal Conley & Associates Inc. Construction Manager PCL Constructors Canada Inc. Structural Consultant John G. Cooke & Associates Ltd. Mechanical/ Electrical Consultant Goodkey, Weedmark & Associates Limited Total Area 45,000 square feet Total Cost $16 million june 2013    /89 13-05-30 2:42 PM

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