The Ottawa Construction News Special Feature
Cleland Jardine Engineering Ltd. has applied its expertise with complex projects and its experience in collaborative solutions to the University of Ottawa Learning Centre project.
Lead structural engineer Sarah Howard says her team faced many challenges, not the least of which was engineering large open spaces in the building addition’s lower level.
Required for the university’s programming, these spaces included a main floor auditorium and column-free basement level classrooms. “We had to minimize the structural impact on the building’s floor to floor height, which were determined by the existing building’s floor levels, while keeping a span upwards of 22m open and column free.”
To achieve this, she says she utilized combinations of steel and concrete in the superstructure above these spaces in order to create a lighter load, while using composite steel girder and cast-in-place concrete construction in the transfer beams to control deflections and mitigate the structure’s depth.
Another challenge the team faced was constructing such a large building addition in a confined space and on a very busy campus. She says the university’s experience within these constraints was invaluable during the design process. The university’s understanding of construction methodologies and challenges allowed for effective decision making and pushed the project efficiently through the design stage.
“Their input ensured that the design team maximized the efficiency of the programming in the new build and the renovation and ensured that the building both adds character and efficiency to the campus,” she said.
Brian Johnson, project manager and partner in charge, says a large part of this project’s success to date has been due to advance planning and collaboration. “We knew from the beginning that this was going to be a complex project under a compressed schedule, and that a team design approach was critical to its success. With the design consultants, construction managers, and owner teams all working together from the start, we have been able to take an effective and harmonious approach to developing and evolving the project.”
Team collaboration was crucial, for instance, in addressing the challenge of constructing a much deeper basement adjacent to a building constructed on piles. Johnson says a team effort from the geotechnical engineers, Pomerleau’s excavation experts, the university, and HDR Architecture Associates Inc. ensured that the addition design met the university`s program requirements, while ensuring that the existing building not only remained stable but also operational during key stages of construction.
“For this kind of collaboration to be successful, everyone has to be on board. This continues to be true throughout the construction stages of the project, however, I think this is a prime example that demonstrates the value of the hours spent working together and finding the right solution that works best for the project.”
Johnson says that BIM was also a key contributor to the team`s ability to work together to find design challenge solutions. The firm has been a long time proponent of BIM as a way of identifying interferences and conflicts early. “It helps us ensure we are all speaking the same language, are seeing the same things, and allows us to have the opportunity to make more real time assessments of various options that are being considered.”
Cleland Jardine has been involved with projects ranging from small scale renovations and retrofits to complex and challenging projects valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Johnson says the firm is especially proud to contribute to the university’s community, supporting and inspiring future generations in their education.