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Behind the Project: AUPE Headquarters

Updated: Jan 31

We sat down with Mohammad Moayyed, an Associate in our Edmonton office to chat about his work.

Thanks for making time for us today, Mohammad. We’re wondering if you could tell us about an interesting project you’re working on?

One interesting project that is currently nearing completion is the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) Headquarters, located in Edmonton. This new office building is 125,000 square feet, and will house a blend of services including functioning as the AUPE head office. It is also truly unique in design. In fact, I’d say that it has changed the perception of what it means to build commercial office space.

Changing the perception of how we build commercial office space is huge, so what’s unique about the project? Since this building is so different, were there any challenges you had to face, or problems you had to solve to make it come to life?

After a series of consultations with the AUPE, Next Architecture and the whole project team concluded that the headquarters needed to be more than just a box shape. There are lots of unique elements to the structure, such as the central atrium which features four wings of different total floor heights and floating staircases to connect the floors.

When constructing these floating staircases, we had to take into consideration vibration and deflection. We performed a dynamic analysis using SAP2000 to verify the vibration of the floating staircases and supporting floors. The finite element model became more complex when we included the floor hangers. These hangers support the floor and are connected to 17m long roof trusses, 18m above the ground floor. AISC Design Guide provides the acceptance criterion for floor and pedestrian bridge and stairs. For example, the system frequency under various walking load conditions shall remain within a specific range to prevent annoying vibrations that can be noticed by people on the stairs or on adjacent floors. With an understanding of the architect’s design intent and desired form, several iterations and structural configurations were considered and verified. The selected design satisfied the form and constructability requirements.

Designing the staircases using dynamic analysis.

The building shape also presented a challenge for the structural system – how would we support this unique structure? Despite the complex form, the wings are located on a circle with a 22.5 degree increment. A simplified and repeatable column layout was developed to create the required form. For maintaining the free column and bracing floor plan within the wing, we used a moment-resisting frames on the radial shape to provide the lateral force-resisting system.

Another unique challenge with many Edmonton projects is the weather. Use of a pre-fabricated wall system allowed the project to continue during the cold season without the need for heating and hoarding. This also helped in meeting the construction schedule and delivering the project on time.

The floating staircases are coming to life. This image, taken by Mohammad Moayyed on August 4, 2020, shows progress in the construction of the stairs.

What have you enjoyed the most while working on this project?

This project was highly collaborative, and I really enjoyed working with the whole project team to make this project come to life. Working so closely allowed us to think and act differently and helped to ensure the unique vision was realized.

A great example of collaboration is working with the entire team early on to agree upon the use of column gridlines and the framing configuration that Entuitive proposed. These allowed us to proceed with the detailed design to meet the construction schedule, while the architectural/mechanical and electrical design was developing.

Any final thoughts?

There are a few other important points to mention with this project. The first is that the project team won the CEA 2020 Showcase Award of Merit, along with the whole team, for this project. The submission for this award was title “A Collaborative Journey” and I think that gets to the heart of what I was saying earlier about the value of collaboration and how much it meant to me.

The second interesting thing to know about this project is that it was our first new construction project at the Edmonton office, so it was incredibly significant for us that we were able to deliver Entuitive’s first new construction project in Edmonton within budget and on time.


Thanks for chatting with us about this great project, Mohammad. If you're interested in learning more about the project, reach out to Mohammad here.


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