Behind the Project: City of Kamloops Canada Games Aquatic Centre
Paul Creighton is a Senior Project Director based out of our Vancouver office. Recently, we sat down with him to discuss his work on the City of Kamloops Canada Games Aquatic Centre, an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) project.
Thanks for sitting down with us today, Paul. Can you please tell us a bit about the City of Kamloops Canada Games Aquatic Centre?
The CGAC was constructed in time to host the 1993 Canada Games, and was a competitive long course swimming pool. Following the Games, it was adapted to host leisure activities and is now part of a large recreational facility including the “Tournament Capital Centre” with offices, medical offices, multiple gyms, indoor track, outdoor track, and support facilities. It is the largest facility in the town and the pool itself sees usage far beyond its original design, by an order of magnitude.
The envelope of the pool and the mechanical and electrical systems were all nearing or past their expected life – the roof was shot, and the EIFS cladding continued to deteriorate despite regular maintenance.
The City of Kamloops set aside sufficient funding to replace or repair the failing elements, and could have gone the conventional route and retained a Building Envelope team to oversee the exterior repairs, and a mechanical firm to oversee that aspect. But they chose to approach this project in a different way: they assembled a large team, including engineers and architects, a general contractor, and some major trades, to complete the repairs using a collaborative project delivery model. In this case, they chose an “Integrated Project Delivery” or IPD contract model.
Once the team was assembled, they were charged with designing two projects: revitalization of the existing pool to the defined budget (Phase 1); and the design of a new, adjacent infill building between the pool building and the nearby TCC fieldhouse (Phase 2). The assembled team of client representatives, consultants, and trade partners (constructors) met regularly in a “Big Room” to assess the current systems and design two new facilities. Further, the project team committed to a set price to deliver either of the alternatives.
Ultimately the City chose to authorize Phase 1 only, but with every wish list item – to deliver a fully realized pool, and they also have a fully conceived and priced future expansion for planning purposes.
Entuitive were initially retained to lead the Building Envelope team. But early on we were also retained to provide Advanced Performance Analysis services – the CGAC is the single largest greenhouse gas producer in the City, and one of the City’s largest consumers of energy.
Sounds like an interesting project with a lot of complexity. Maybe you can share a few of the challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The first hurdle we faced was understanding the IPD process to put together our bid. Understanding the contractual terms and expected time commitment was challenging. Though Enuitive have worked on IPD projects in other provinces, this was the first one for us in BC – in fact, this is the first IPD project in BC to attain Validation (i.e. design and set cost). The delivery model is still fairly new in the province and only one other IPD project had started in BC before this (and is still not underway).
Though our Envelope team is accustomed to working with architects and contractors in a collaborative way, we were not used to working in a mutual contractual relationship where we share the design and project cost. Reporting, forecasting, and commitment to team cost are much more difficult to do in this model than with simple internal project management.
While at first it was confusing, I came to see many of the significant benefits of this approach. For example, though there is some additional documentation, there is also elimination of unnecessary documentation – no tendering process for most of the major elements (roof, cladding, etc.), no specification of materials or methods that are not being considered, and immediate and real-time feedback on cost and constructability from the trade partners.
The next challenge came with our design of the building envelope due to missing or contrary information. The existing roof was not as described by previous investigating firms. For example, one insulation layer was phenolic foam, not the polyisocyanate that was identified. Phenolic carries with it a significantly increased risk of metal corrosion wherever there are leaks, especially the underlaying and supporting deck – and indeed this was discovered during our review, requiring considerable replacement of deck.
Interestingly, in the end 100% of the deck was replaced, not because of the amount of deterioration, but also on other factors such as construction timeline, and structural upgrades that became available once the amount of detected corrosion reached a certain amount.
The third challenge was related to thermal targets. The existing EIFS cladding, though in poor condition and appearance (cracking and subject to pest damage), was very thermally efficient, almost completely lacking in thermal bridging and with a good amount of insulation. Yet, the City mandated that the EIFS must be removed for appearance and maintenance reasons. Any other cladding system worth consideration involved removal of a significant amount of existing insulation, and the introduction of thermal bridges (to varying degrees). Even worse, another mandate of the new design was the introduction of new windows on one elevation. Both directives put the goal of achieving Step Code equivalent performance in jeopardy.
This was resolved in several ways, including energy analysis and careful detailing. The APA team provided feedback on what the net energy result would be from each of the proposed cladding and roofing approaches, which allowed us to determine the best bang-for-the-buck. Careful design included improvements in the detailing, such as window intersections, overloading of some window-walls, and significant upgrades in parapet insulation.
As I mentioned before, we also performed Advanced Performance Analysis. The APA team had to analyze existing conditions and propose recommendations for multiple buildings (Phase 1 and 2) and several evolving systems as the design evolved. For example, well into the analysis, the design team realized there was an opportunity to use a nearby major sewer pipe and a ground source, which also had to be evaluated. In fact, the APA team had to analyze three buildings, since at one point in design there was a recognition that significant overall reduction and efficiencies might be realized by combining with the TCC Field house and outdoor facilities as well.
This was successful due to the integration of all partners, inside and outside Entuitive, on the same communication platforms, and a free sharing of information amongst all team members (and some burning of the midnight oil by the APA team). The APA team went on to be retained by the City in pursuit of some (successful) grant applications.
So many challenges but so much great collaboration that led to solutions. Can I ask what you enjoyed most about the project?
I really enjoyed the IPD approach and came to appreciate its advantages. Though initially I was frustrated by what I perceived as a lack of progress when compared with the standard delivery model, as time went on several benefits became apparent and overall the process took less time and problems were more easily resolved.
For example, instead of Entuitive and the architect designing several concepts, the client provided immediate input and selected the preferred approach and materials. Similarly, the trade partner on the team provided immediate cost feedback, but also commentary about constructability and material availability. The latter point ended up being especially important when supply sources became affected by the pandemic.
Working in one space with the client and multiple disciplines and contractors gave me some great insight into other aspects of construction and facility operation that I might not have been exposed to. Aside from piquing my interest, it will also inform my work moving forward.
I also enjoyed spending time with the team. They’re a good group who are fully aligned towards the same goal, working hard, and also enjoying each other’s company at work, and after hours. I have formed professional friendships that will last long after the project is over.
And lastly, the significant change and improvement to the facility appearance will be noticed by the entire community, whose pride we can share in. We also know the facility is significantly improved operationally, something our client is very pleased with.
Any Final Thoughts?
At the time of this writing, construction began in June, and the project is under budget (money has already been handed back to the City for investment back in to the facility) and on time (we expect to be open in January – despite the COVID pandemic, which occurred during the design process)!
I don’t think the IPD process is for every project, but where it works there are significant advantages. I expect to see more of these, and I look forward to being on those projects.
Oh, and Kamloops is a pretty cool place!
Thanks for sitting down with us today, Paul. You really dove deep and we appreciated learning more about the IPD process as well!