Media Source: Award Magazine
With its new Centre in Lloydminster, Alberta and Saskatchewan not only means to provide more efficient city services but also set a new benchmark for public buildings.
Located on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, Lloydminster erected its original “city shop” for vehicle maintenance and other services in 1966, when the municipality had less than 7,000 residents. Today Lloydminster is home to 31,000 and the population continues to grow. The city’s services teams are growing, too. Lloydminster needed a larger infrastructure building for more workshops, offices and storage.
The existing edifice had problems. Mechanics struggled to keep pace with vehicle maintenance requirements in the two service bays. The truck wash was tiny. “You were lucky if you could fit a decent-sized truck in it,” says Peter McHugh, Lloydminster’s general manager for buildings.
At 16,000 square feet, the building was too small. Public Works, Planning and Development and other departments had offices in different locations, making communication inefficient.
Lloydminster needed a larger facility so all its infrastructure teams would reside in one place. A modern shop would give mechanics a better work- space. Improved storage facilities would keep equipment warm and ready to go. Most ambitiously, Lloydminster wanted to establish a higher level of design for all municipal buildings with this project. “They didn’t want to put up something quickly and cheaply,” says Linus Murphy, partner at S2 Architecture. “They wanted to set a minimum level of design for functionality and longevity.” The new building should be handsome yet practical, capable of growing along with the city.
S2 Architecture was hired to design the new facility. The municipality also chose Ledcor Construction as construction man- ager, TRL & Associates as structural consultants, TYZ Engineering as mechanical consultants, SMP Engineering as electrical consultants, and Select Engineering as civil engineers.
For the design, S2 focused on two city directives: the project should use funds carefully and it should speak to Lloydminster’s history.S2 decided a less-is-more, modernist design would best meet those requirements. Murphy took inspiration from three giants of modern architecture: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (architect of the Toronto-Dominion Centre), Walter Gropius (founder of the Bauhaus school of art) and Le Corbusier (urban planner and furniture designer). S2 applied its styles to different areas of the new facility: the blue- black brick office module would mimic Mies’ office designs, the shops module would pay homage to Gropius’s Fagus Factory in Germany and Le Corbusier’s approach would inform the design of the white-clad storage module.
The interior would exemplify Lloydminster’s geography and history. The municipality’s situated on Canada’s fourth meridian, so S2 grouped interior elements in fours, for example, the wood corner of the front desk features four- inch horizontal slats.
The warm interior palette (black, brown, orange and red) would draw on Lloydminster’s heritage as an agricultural hub and petroleum producer.
The municipal team worked with the designers to select flooring materials for function. Carpet tiles in the office area are easy to replace. “The employees may be wearing work boots and they’ll be hard on the space,” says Natasha Jalbert, S2’s interior design lead. In the shop and storage areas, the high-performance Marmoleum and concrete flooring is durable and easy to clean.
Lloydminster wanted the new facility to be environmentally advanced. Shelf-like protrusions over the windows would direct sunlight into the interior for more natural light and lower electricity costs during winter. Steel be from recycled products.
The construction team and the municipality gathered input from people who would work in the new complex. “We got practical, useful suggestions,” Murphy says.
Ledcor broke ground in March 2012, with an eye toward completing the project by the fall of 2013. But the construction team hit a snag. While excavating the 26-acre site, the crew discovered a slough. S2 and Ledcor had to redesign and reposition the building to avoid the swampy area.
Ledcor worked fast to move forward. “It’s typical of the times we’ve worked with them, but keeping up with Ledcor on site is a challenge,” Jalbert says. “They progress quickly.” As of October 2013, the 92,600-square-foot Infrastructure Services Operations Centre was on track for substantial completion in November. Municipal staff plans to move in early next year.
The building is nothing like its predecessor. Rather than two mechanics bays, the new facility has six and the truck wash easily fits two vehicles at a time. The complex offers office space and workshops for eight divisions, including Public Works, Fleet Maintenance and Planning & Development. It has heated indoor vehicle storage. The expandable mechanical and electrical systems enable Lloydminster to increase the size of the facility without McHugh says that with the services teams all in the new complex, they will be able to communicate more quickly and collaborate more effectively. The municipality also expects to reduce maintenance costs associated with having numerous small offices scattered around the city. But perhaps most importantly, Lloydminster has set a new standard for future municipal projects. From now on, municipal buildings will have to meet the high design and functionality benchmarks set by the Operations Centre.