While the Canadian national government is putting the finishing touches for a country-wide infrastructure program, the city of Calgary is experiencing its own construction boomlet, with a number of major projects either just completed, getting underway or entering the final planning stages. Three major Calgary construction projects give the Alberta construction industry key stages of project completion, with a $2.6-billion (CAN) airport terminal that opened Oct. 31, work continuing on the $245-million (CAN) New Central Library and the announcement of a $1.2-billion (CAN) New Calgary Cancer Centre.

The 2-million-sq-ft Calgary International Airport expansion included 15 years of planning and five years of construction in order to open 24 new aircraft gates and streamlined customs areas. The International Terminal allows YCC to move all U.S. and international flight operations to the new facility, the largest single infrastructure program in the airport’s history. The terminal opening comes on the heels of a 2014 opening of Canada’s longest runway.

The Calgary office of Mississauga, Ontario-based EllisDon Construction Services Inc. led construction on the five-story building. Travis Perry, director of business development, says the project was both challenging and rewarding. Looking back over the multi-year project, Perry says that when they planned design seven years ago they knew it needed to remain flexible.

“Much of the final information technology systems had yet to be invented, meaning we had to construct the infrastructure as a placeholder for the most current technologies to be installed in the final couple years of construction,” he says. “This means we had to go back in to visually finished areas to complete the work with delicate care and attention to the final finishes.”

Perry says this approach was not a typical or preferred phasing, but was required to produce the YYC International Facilities Project with the most up to date infrastructure.

Along with the added space and gates, the YCC project includes YYC Link, a custom-designed and Canadian-built shuttle service to transport passengers between the domestic and international facilities. The system uses electric-powered vehicles.

Additional areas include two post-security central locations with over 50 shops, a corridor to connect the new terminal with the existing 1977-built terminal, a U.S. Customs prescreening area and North America’s first full CATSA Plus enhanced passenger-screening system.

Construction of what the Calgary Airport Authority calls a green building includes 581 geothermal wells, 410 miles of in-floor radiant heating tubing, 3,178,000 cu ft of concrete, 8,800 tons of structural steel and more than 11 million hours worked by construction crews. EllisDon used its F360 formwork system, designed with aluminum supports for what it calls the “highest adjustable range and the highest load capacity of any system in its class in the world.”

Led by Calgary-based Stuart Olson as the construction manager, work continues on the New Central Library with 244,000 sq ft of usable library space, a 66% increase from the existing downtown library. Located east of City Hall and overseen by the Calgary Municipal Land Corp., the project started in September 2015 and is expected to open in 2018.

Designed by Oslo-based Snøhetta and Calgary’s DIALOG, the steel and concrete building will include 465 hexagonal glass panels to form the library’s outer skin.

“The curtain wall is such a vital part of the entire building,” says Kate Thompson, CMLC vice president of projects. “It lends so much to the dynamic style and personality of the library.” Each of the 485 panels is one of five different shapes, each slightly different from the other and ranging in size from 4x12 ft to 9x30 ft and weighing from 2,000 to 5,000 pounds. Over one year into the project, the cladding fabricated by Calgary-based Ferguson Corp. has started to cover the steel and concrete.

The clear, glazed and fritted finish on the glass was strategically placed to prevent heat build-up in the LEED Gold building.

“Ferguson sent two prototype panels to a testing lab in Miami to see how they withstood water, heat and other extreme conditions,” says Thompson.

The building should be entirely closed in by the second quarter of next year. Construction on the New Calgary Cancer Centre is set to start in 2017. The facility's planners, with a $1.2-billion budget in place, have scheduled completion for 2023 and aim to open in 2024. Infrastructure Alberta issued a design-build RFQ in July and then the design-build RFP in October to two shortlisted proponent teams, PCL Construction Management and EllisDon Construction Services. 

The organization expects to award the project in June 2017 with a groundbreaking and construction start expected in late 2017. Early plans show the building will include 160 inpatient beds, 12 radiation vaults, outpatient cancer clinics and a clinical trials unit and research laboratory. Crews have already demolished a main parkade at the Foothills Medical Centre to make way for future construction.

Michael Bevan, stakeholder relations manager of Building Trades of Alberta, says the building trades unions are “glad to have the work that these construction projects have been able to provide,” ensuring members can both hone skills and fill the need for work.