PCL – East Markham Community Centre and Library

The town of Markham, Ontario, is funding the construction of a multipurpose recreation centre that will encourage citizens to improve their overall health and well being. When completed, the East Markham Community Centre and Library will house a recreation complex, multipurpose community centre and a branch of the Markham Public Library in a 152,000-square-foot facility.

The centre will be connected to Markham-Stouffville Hos­pital, which will utilize amenities of the athletics facilities for therapeutic treatment as well as have 24/7 access to the medical wing of the library.

The outdoor space between the hospital and the complex will eventually be developed into a wellness garden that will stand as a quiet enclave within a dense urban setting. The project also calls for construction of a three-level garage with capacity for 300 vehicles, which can be expanded to 500. 

PCL – the general contractor for this project – broke ground in early August 2010, and the public grand opening is scheduled for September 2012. The community centre will be substantially completed during the second quarter of 2012. 

Something for Everyone

The recreation portion of the project will feature numerous athletic amenities for the residents of Markham as well as patients of the hospital. There will be a triple gymnasium, aquatic center with a competition pool, leisure pool, therapy pool, splash pad and water slides. 

A fitness club, multipurpose rooms and dedicated space for seniors, teens and children are included in the design. The facility also will feature a Snoezelen multisensory therapy room, which incorporates equipment and materials that offer a range of sensory experience for individuals of all ages who deal with cognitive disabilities like autism.

The complex also will house a rehearsal hall and performance space for the community orchestra, which will double as a meeting space for hospital personnel. Gary Adamkowski, director of asset management for Markham, says the performance area is wired into the hospital so personnel can monitor rounds and procedures for training purposes. 

The town and the hospital collaborated on the design of the public library, as well. Within the 25,000 square feet dedicated to the library will be a 2,000-square-foot medical reference section. It will be available to the general public during regular library hours, and medical staff will have access to the resources 24 hours a day.

Thermally Energized

Instead of using traditional sources of power for its heating and cooling needs, the complex will connect to the thermal energy system powered by the Markham District Energy Inc. (MDEI). The central plant is located adjacent to the parking structure and designed to integrate with the community centre complex. The district energy plant will employ co-generation technology to provide thermal and electrical energy through a series of underground pipes, which will also deliver energy to the hospitals and a local fire station as well as potential district energy customers throughout the area.

“There’s no capital investment for us up front with boilers or chillers, or direct expansion cooling systems,” Adamkow­ski says. “We connect loops in our building to the MDEI heat exchangers for the energy we use, and it is redundant and backed up, which is a huge convenience.”

The use of thermal energy is one of the many ways the complex’s design will earn points toward a municipally mandated LEED Silver certification. Adam­kowski says the construction team forecasts the structure may earn enough points for a Gold level by including a light-colored roof to minimize heat-island effect, daylighting and rainwater capture for reuse as irrigation. 

Coming Together

Achieving LEED certification is just one way the town of Markham, PCL and Perkins+Will have come together to make this project a success. Adamkowski says the project’s original estimate was more than the $75 million budget set for the job. But everyone worked collaboratively to analyze the design.

“We needed to embark on a value-engineering program to figure out just how we could get down to the construction value we had estimated,” Adam­kowski says. 

Most of the savings came from alternatives for finishes in the structure without loss of functionality or longevity. Team members came together to brainstorm a long list of items that could be amended or eliminated in the budget, which Adamkowski says is the best way to make sure everyone has a say in the matter.

“You have got to put everything on the table to figure out what you can get out of it,” he says.

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