Behind the Project: Preserving a community legacy building in Edmonton
Monique Miller is a Senior Designer at Entuitive, based out of our Edmonton office. We recently sat down with Monique to discuss an interesting project she worked on in the city.
Monique, thanks for sitting down with us today. Tell us about an interesting project you’ve worked on.
Thanks. Recently, we completed the Bonnie Doon Leisure Centre Rehabilitation in Edmonton. This was a restoration, rehabilitation and renovation of an existing building, which included a redesign of the interiors, upgrading for barrier-free access, an upgraded aquatic system, a mechanical and electrical overhaul, and, switching the pool over to saltwater.
Entuitive was involved in the restoration work as well as supporting the architectural, aquatic, mechanical and electrical overhaul.
Sounds like an interesting project! What were some of the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
From a structural perspective, switching the aquatic system to saltwater presented a challenge. With the switch, a new gutter system running the perimeter of the pool was required. The existing gutter would interrupt the pool deck suspended slab, so the slab had to be cut back and a new gutter structure had to be designed that would work from an aquatic perspective but also integrate support for the suspended slab.
We had to consider construction phasing including how to shore up the existing slab and successfully cast a new concrete gutter on structural steel in a limited amount of space. So often with big rehabilitations there are innumerable intricacies to the overall project. For example, the pool deck drains needed to be upgraded, which included re-sloping the deck, which in turn would add additional load to the slab that was already being altered for the gutter.
It is easy in a project to get focused on each individual design task, here it was critical to look at all of the building modifications from a holistic perspective; as one change could have had cascading effects on other disciplines and systems. Working closely as a design team is imperative to the success of this scale and type of project.
Another challenge was presented by the small size of the building. When it came to the upgraded aquatic and mechanical systems, we realized that a lot of new – and larger – mechanical equipment would be needed. We were hard pressed to find a new home for it all. We considered several possibilities, some of which were squeezing it into the already cramped mechanical room, and placing it on the lower roof over the reception and changerooms. Ultimately, we moved it outside the building. This meant creating a structural slab to support the system due to its size and weight and soil conditions onsite.
What this project reinforced for me was, no matter the challenge, we’re up for it. We’re great at evaluating the consequences of every design idea or solution, considering cost, impact and sequence of events.
Wow, sounds like you got through some tricky challenges there and enjoyed the creative process along the way. What was your favourite part of the project?
This is one of the more involved projects I’ve worked on – it was my first opportunity to be a part of a holistic rehabilitation of a structure of this scale. It was great for my personal and technical development.
It was also fun collaborating with the design team – from architects, to electrical, to mechanical, to the aquatic consultants. It was rewarding to work with so many talented individuals and come together to solve problems.
That’s so great! Any final thoughts before we let you get back to your day?
One of the things that struck me about this project was that many onlookers thought we should tear the existing Bonnie Doon Centre down and build from scratch.
What you need to understand, especially if you’re not from Edmonton, is that the Bonnie Doon Pool was a bright orange building that sat on a traffic circle in the Bonnie Doon neighbourhood and sort of served as a cultural landmark. Preserving that space – and that face – for the community was important to the City of Edmonton.
Plus, we can’t always rip down every building and replace it just because we don’t like it, or it seems easier. Extending the viable service life of a building is important, both from a sustainability point of view and to preserve the historical legacy of our communities. Sometimes we are quick to forget that older buildings hold intangible value for the people of the community. They form a part of our history, for the City and residents.
Thank you for sitting down with us today, Monique. We learned a lot from you!