For Hamilton, Ontario-based Walters Inc., fabricating, delivering, and then erecting about 1,200 tonnes of steel in a seven-month period at Calgary’s new $168-million National Music Centre was as challenging as the facility is innovative and awe-inspiring.
Under construction since 2013 and scheduled for completion in 2016, the two-tower, five-storey complex has a number of complex connections and features.
One of those features is a curved-end steel bridge, which spans over 4th Avenue SE Street to link the towers known as the Main Building with the King Edward Building.
Apart from the engineering details, which included complicated connections and unique load transfers, the challenges included a cold snap, a small lay down area and ensuring the steel arrived on time, says Walters Executive Vice-President Peter Kranendonk.
"Steel deliveries were carefully co-ordinated with the site team to ensure that just the right amount of steel that could be erected each day was delivered," he said, adding that careful planning and the company’s "design assist" role ensured there were few complications.
"We sat in on the early meetings with the structural engineer and architect," said Kranendonk.
That planning process commenced in June 2012 and by May 2013 fabrication in all its three-Hamilton area plants was underway. The erection crew was on site in May 2014.
Comprised of a site supervisor and a work force which ranged from 25 to 30 workers, the crew erected about 15 to 20 tonnes of steel daily.
About 1,200 tonnes of steel were installed in the Main Building and 90 tonnes in the King Edward Building. The various sections included columns, beams, trusses, stairs and some ladders, he says.
Kranendonk says some of the larger pieces of steel were anywhere from 40 to 50 feet long (12 to 15 metres) and weighed around 6,000 to 9,000 pounds (2,271 to 4,082 kilograms).
In the centre’s presentation room, three large trusses were formed by assembling single pieces of steel on site. Two of the trusses are 22 metres long (72 feet), while the third is 12.3 metres long (40 feet).
In the roof parapet, which is comprised of three sections, 46 trusses of various dimensions were placed. They were fabricated in sections in the Hamilton-area plants and then spliced together on site.
One of the most complex phases was the installation of the bridge. Two tower cranes were required to lift the 42-metre-long (137 feet), nine-metre-high (30 feet), seven-metre-wide (22 feet) structure into place.
The project hit a milestone in mid-December when the 15-metre-long (49 feet), 1.7-tonne signature beam was hoisted into place during a "topping off ceremony".
"Fabrication of the main building steel is complete," said Kranendonk. "Our shops are now working on small miscellaneous steel packages, such as handrails and ladders, which we hope to finish up by the end of January."
For Walters, though, the project isn’t finished. Fabrication of two staircases is underway, which are being referred to as the "Feature Stairs". To extend from the main floor to the fifth floor, they will consist of eight flights, each weighing roughly 4,535 kilograms (10,000 pounds).
Erection of the stairs will commence this April and will be finished in May, says Kranendonk.
The National Music Centre is a registered charity whose vision is to be "a natural catalyst for discovery, innovation and renewal through music," says its Director of Organizational Development Naomi Grattan.
Funding for the project is through a mix of public and private funds, with the City of Calgary, the province of Alberta and the government of Canada each contributing $25 million.
To date, $116 million has been raised, she says.
Previously known as the Cantos Music Foundation and renamed in 2012, the National Music Centre has run a collections program at its current location for more than 10 years,
"This new building will allow for expanded programming and exhibitions, multiple classrooms, recording studios, performance spaces and a radio station."
Allied Works Architecture, a firm with offices in Portland, Oregon and New York, is the lead architect. Other project partners include Kasian Architecture, construction manager CANA Construction and structural consultant RJC, all based in Calgary.