June 2014

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courtesy PcL University College of the North – Thompson Campus by Peter Caulfield T he new Thompson, Manitoba campus of the University College of the North (UCN) is open for business. "The building is an education facility intended to provide northern Manitoba with a centre of excellence for post-secondary education," says Kevin Clouston, project manager for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation. "It is intended as a major delivery centre for nursing, business management, education and university and college programs." The four-storey UCN campus is located on the northern edge of Thompson, which is 450 miles north of Winnipeg. "The building was constructed immediately adjacent to the Thompson Regional Community Centre [TRCC]," says Clouston. "The two buildings share a large unrestricted opening, between the UCN's main atrium and the TRCC's central space that tie the two buildings together. When you're inside, you can look up and down and see all the different parts of the buildings and how they're connected." The TRCC, which contains a hockey arena, curling rink and wellness centre, is a major social hub for the city. "By connecting the two facilities, the colleges give stu- dents direct access to the sports and athletic amenities of the TRCC and at the same time makes UCN part of the TRCC," Clouston says. "In this way, it blurs the distinc- tion between the two facilities and helps make UCN part of the larger community." The new campus is a major improvement over UCN's previous Thompson facilities that had been built as residences for miners. Thompson is one of two main UCN campuses, with the other located at The Pas, a smaller city 375 miles northwest of Winnipeg. UCN also has 12 regional community locations throughout northern Manitoba, nine of which are on First Nations reserves. UCN has about 1,900 full- and part-time students, of whom 425 are located in Thompson. Because so many of UCN's students are off-campus, it requires all the latest technology – cameras, recording equipment and high-speed audio and video transmission – for remote learning. The building was designed as a steel superstructure with precast concrete floor slabs and high-performance curtain wall systems and metal cladding. An angular curved facade on the south side envelops the two-storey front entrance, and hori- zontal slats on the third and fourth levels reflect vernacular Aboriginal slat building techniques. The project is targeting LEED Gold. Doug Corbett, design principal with Smith Carter Architects and Engineers, says when his company designed the building it was aware of the affect the design might have on the community. "We wanted the building to be socially responsible architecture in the vernacular of the north," Corbett says. " UCN is unique in North America. It is governed by a tri-council made up of the Governing Council, Learning Council and an Elders Council." Corbett adds that the building's design needed to make northern students feel comfortable about attending a post-secondary facility. "The students depend on extended families," he says. "The majority of the students are single parents and they need family support, which includes constructing family housing on site. Elders are encouraged to become part of the daycare facility on site." Smith Carter commissioned Irvin Head, a native carver from northern Manitoba, to carve two wooden panels for the building entrance that incorporate culturally significant symbols and stories. The campus features an Aboriginal centre where sweet grass (also known as smudging) ceremonies are held. location University College of the North, Thompson, Manitoba owner/Developer Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation architect/Mechanical/ electrical/interior Design/ lanDscape architect Smith Carter Architects and Engineers general contractor PCL Constructors Canada structural consultant Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd. leeD consultant Morrison Hershfield total area 87,780 square feet construction cost $61 million Corbett says the design has a raw look, with lot s of nat ural materi- als. "The exterior is made up of cur- tain wall glass, standing seam metal siding , local grey and black gran- ite, nat ural cedar, wood laminate composite panel and a green roof," he says. The building faces south, pro- viding abundant natural light into the building. "The project was rich in design and construction challenges. Everything is more expensive in northern Manitoba. The program needs of the building had to be balanced against the budget," says Corbett. Steel piles were used as they were the most cost-ef fective method to achieve the required foundation. CIP Piles, or Caissons, were almost impos- sible due to the number that would have been required ,and the depth and precast piles would have needed to be spliced, due to the quantity of boulders that would have been encountered. Chris McRae, project manager with PCL Constructors Canada, says the variety of details and finishes on the exterior complicated the completion of the envelope. "There are nine dif- ferent finishes on the exterior. And unique details, such as two protruding smith carter architects and engineers 'eyebrows,' were labour intensive." Work ing during the long , cold w inter s wa s a not her cha llenge. " T her e wer e m a ny cold d ay s , especially during the last winter, which was Thompson's coldest winter on record," McRae says. The project's remote location was another complication. "We undertook an aggressive local hiring strategy and hired locally where we could. We were pleased to be able to state that the major- ity of workers were all Manitobians," concludes McRae. n 94/ june 2014 university College of the north – Thompson Campus p.94-95UCON_X2.indd 94 14-06-03 10:32 AM

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