October 15, 2012
UBC Faculty of Law building construction earns kudos
Building a geothermal field and other sustainable features as part of the University of British Columbia (UBC) Faculty of Law Allard Hall Building helped ITC Construction Group win a Silver Award of Excellence.
ITC won in the category of General Contractor $15 million to $40 million.
“The building was finished on time and on budget in August 2011, in time for the beginning of the school year,” said senior project manager Paul Sum.
The Vancouver-based company provided construction management services on behalf of the building owner, UBC Properties Trust.
The architects on the project were Diamond Schmitt Architects of Toronto and CEI Architecture of Vancouver.
The Allard Building is a five-storey, 150,000-square foot concrete structure that holds 12 classrooms, a library, offices, student lounge and three elevators.
Completed in August 2011, the $39 million facility earned LEED Silver certification and features a landscaped pond on the north side of the building.
Sum said the building is a state-of-the-art structure.
“For example, the library has plenty of high space in it,” he said.
“And, it’s wired to the max to accommodate such audio-visual capability as video conferencing.”
The off-white exterior is composed of block walls with a torch-on membrane that has about an 80-year life span.
A sustainable feature of the project is its use of a geothermal field, located under the building, that extracts ground heat in the winter and removes building heat in the summer.
“The geothermal field consists of 150 bore holes that are 300 feet deep,” said Sum.
“Plastic lines filled with antifreeze glycol were grouted into the holes and are used to transfer heat to and from the building.”
In addition to the geothermal system, the building contains other features that enabled it to achieve LEED Silver certification.
They include the extensive use of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) wood in the mill work panels in the forum and classrooms.
The company built wood slat ceilings on the ground and upper floors.
The extensive use of lighting controls as well as natural light save energy.
Reflection cap sheets reduce heat absorption on the roof.
A bicycle enclosure promotes cycling by students, faculty and staff.
Construction of the new law building was preceded by the demolition of the Curtis Building, the former UBC law building.
The old law library had to remain in operation until the new building was completed, and then the old library was demolished.
The demolition was completed in March 2010 and excavation began later that month.
The foundation was poured in late spring 2010, followed by construction of the structure and finishing the interior.
The project faced a number of challenges.
Because the new law building is located at a major intersection on the UBC campus, with residential buildings and other university buildings nearby, care had to be taken to not disturb the neighbors.
In addition, the stakeholder involvement in the design phase of the building was extensive.
“In fact, the design changes carried on into the construction phase,” said Sum.
“For a four-month period, the dean and faculty put the construction on hold to implement design changes to the moot court and six large classrooms.
In the meantime, ITC worked on other parts of the building.
“There was a scramble at the end to get everything completed on time, but we did it,” he said.
Another challenge was posed by the fact that ITC worked on the excavation at the same time as Sonic Drilling Ltd. of Surrey, B.C. did the geothermal drilling.
“Because of difficult ground conditions, it could drill only three to four holes per day,” Sum said.
“As a result, it took one year to drill all 150 bore holes.”
Electricity supply was another challenge.
“The old building had an underground electrical room that it shared with the old library, as well as the Buchanan Block of academic buildings across the street,” Sum explained.
“When we demolished the old law building, we had to demolish part of the electrical room as well.
“But, we had to keep the part that served the old library and the Buchanan buildings until the new building had been completed.”
ITC didn’t have any trouble attracting subcontractors to the busy campus.
“There was plenty of parking nearby for the trades,” Sum said.
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