February 5th, 2018

Inside Port Colborne Operations Centre

Posted in: All News , Case Studies

Understanding how people work was paramount to the success of The Port Colborne Operations Centre. Completed in 2017, this project included an administration building, operations centre, wash bay, salt bay, vehicle storage and materials storage yards. While beautifully designed, the real depth of this project is in the development of its extensive infrastructure, including a mechanics bay for truck maintenance.

The project included a bridge crane, stationary two-post lift, fluids dispensing system, waste oil receptor/tank, vehicle exhaust system, welding exhaust systems, compressed air distribution and wood shop. We incorporated an underbody pressure washing system for truck, glycol in-ground heating system for both interior/exterior applications, fueling stations, and standby power systems.

Prioritizing the comfort and experience of its employees, we integrated the heated floors in the mechanic’s bay, a high volume area where people work near the floor. The use of different building materials and construction techniques adds additional interest to the project. The operations centre is a pre-engineered structure, the salt dome is a pre-fabricated tensioned fabric building, both working in tandem with more traditional building techniques and materials.

The project recently tendered on budget and required considerable coordination with the municipality, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Region of Niagara and Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. We spent a great deal of time with the stakeholders from the outset of the project to understand the spacial needs and in developing the functional programme. We were able to identify that the original location was not equipped for growth within the municipality, specifically its administrative and fleet service needs. Working with the municipality we identified a design that was equipped for growth, making a compelling business case to push the schedule for the expansion — one unanimously approved by council. The result is a design that seamlessly incorporates other departments from the City, allowing them to decant other leased environments and ultimately create efficiencies.

Additionally, we were able to provide them with a high efficiency building envelope and combine a pre-engineered building with minor modifications to a more standard building in order to stay within their budget without sacrificing design.

Extraordinary Results

– As part of the interior design process, we took time with the users to discuss how they work in the space and recognized how various departments work differently. Specifically, engineering works in a more collaborative environment with layout tables and shared discussion. This meant a different approach to designing the space that was flexible for group environments. Our design included fewer walls, but greater investment in sound attenuation to ensure the space was conducive to this work.

– The facilities operation environment required less sound attenuation and more office spaces with specific adjacency and visual connections both to the staff and public entry points. We reviewed these spaces carefully as we added access to staff computers in the central corridor – a computer bar, which employees could use to quickly check in on work orders, etc. without interfering with the main office. The free space in the office could now function as touchdown spaces for summer staff, part time staff or transitional workers.

– We worked extensively on design materials for the project as it is located in a high profile area next to the Canal and at a gateway into the downtown. The town understood the importance of a modern building, however they appreciated the use of authentic materials that related to the historic masonry housing stock in the community as well as the industrial detailing found along the canal lift bridges and waterway industrial buildings.

– Under tight coordination and oversight, the project tender process was completed on budget, despite its demanding mix of materials and required trades.

– Our team successfully balanced the coordination and consensus from multiple governing bodies, from the municipal to federal level.

– We were careful about the integration of safety and security into the project, including systems which ensured the security of the yard, careful control of access points for public points of interaction, with secured areas for the maintenance, storage and security of the fleet areas.