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Commercial & Institutional

Urbacon Building Group – Pickering Town Centre


Built with an eye to the future, the $32 million Pickering Town Centre being constructed next to the town hall will also connect the center of the city to further development. The parking garage at the second- and third-floor levels of the 150,000-square-foot development will attach to an arcade for another building under construction, a transit station and a pedestrian pathway. Floors 4 through 10 of the center – construction of which was started in September 2009 and is due for completion in May 2011 – will be devoted to office space.

The Pickering Town Centre is concrete up to the fourth floor. Then, only the stairwell and elevator core are concrete from floors 4 through 10, and the rest is structural steel. These materials use recycled content along with the drywall, which will help the building in its effort to achieve LEED Silver certification. The paints, coatings and carpeting all emit low or no level of volatile organic compounds, and the lighting is energy-efficient and uses occupancy sensors.

“They wanted to have a 33 percent recovery factor,” Commercial Division General Manager Errol Dube says of 20 Vic Management, the building’s owner. “It’s quite high to achieve. We had to redo our initial design. We added more insulation – not just your average 2 inches or 4 inches of insulation, it’s 5 to 8 inches of insulation – that’s a big factor of heat recovery and no heat loss.”

The center has a curtain wall exterior made up of high reflectance glass for energy savings. It also uses high-efficiency boilers, energy recovery units on the roof and low-flow plumbing fixtures. A green roof is hidden from view but will help reduce rainwater runoff. Other portions of the roof are covered with a light-colored, single-ply thermoplastic polyolefin to reflect sunlight. The ground floor uses masonry and a lightweight architectural glass fiber-reinforced precast concrete that also helps the building meet LEED standards.

Downtown Creation

Because the building will function as a town centre, Pickering officials gave special attention to the project.

“They are trying to create a downtown core,” Dube explains. “That building is nearly right beside the town hall. They wanted to have a lot of input into the design. It took a little while to get building permits and sign approvals.”

Because it was a design/build project, building permits were issued in phases. “So we got a foundation permit and started building before the building was completely designed,” Dube explains. “That is the beauty of it. It’s very advantageous to a lot of developers to go that way – even construction management.

“You can do virtually the same thing – get involved at the time of design and get some permits for the foundation so you can get started even before the building is finished being designed,” he points out. “That eventually caught up with us, and at one point we had to stand still for a couple of weeks. That delayed the parking garage a little bit.”

Soil conditions required the use of 53 caissons averaging 35 feet long to anchor the building. Urbacon self-performed carpentry and installation of doors and hardware, and approximately 15 subcontractors are being used for the rest of the construction.

Among the design decisions still being made at press time were the selection of backlit metal panels to beautify the exterior of the parking garage. Another $2.5 million will be spent in tenant set-up such as partitions, inside offices, meeting and board rooms when the building’s major tenant – Municipal Property Assessment Corp. – moves into it.

Develops and Builds

Urbacon – which has four offices throughout Canada in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver – was founded in 1984 by Tony Mancini, whose son Marco is CEO. The company develops and builds mostly commercial and institutional properties and has its own in-house architect.

Urbacon has groups for building interiors, power system design and maintenance, custom home construction and management and land opportunities.

“We’re one of the top data center designers and builders,” Dube asserts. “Our company has an incredible reputation for that.” Urbacon also is the first company in Canada to use the Kyoto heat-recovering mechanical system developed in Europe for data centers that the Canadian government has been championing.