With the number of high-rises that populate downtown Toronto, it is no surprise the city has one of the most majestic skylines in the country. The construction of many of these structures was managed by Tucker HiRise Construction Inc., which specializes in high-rise residential construction. In September, the Toronto-based firm will complete construction on the $30 million LTD Condominiums for client Malibu Investments. Malibu selected Tucker as project manager early in the process and had worked with the company before on a project called Boutique Condominiums.
LTD Condominiums is a 15-storey, 163,500-square-foot tower consisting of 199 units ranging from studios to three bedrooms. It includes guest suites, a fitness facility, a multipurpose room, a seventh-floor party room and an open terrace. The design, by local architect Richard Witt of Raw Design, features an ultra-modern, angular exterior façade consisting of precast, glass and aluminum metal panels. “It’s quite modern, quite complicated, but it should be quite an interesting façade when it is finished,” Project Manager Chris Lloyd says. “It’s a pie-shaped podium of six floors with a pie-shaped tower cut back by the seventh-floor terrace sitting on top, which is nicely bound together by aluminum panels and precast,” he describes. “The layout was a challenge, but it hasn’t seemed to have caused any major issues on site. It really is a typical downtown project, but with a little more space than most downtown projects usually get.”
Lloyd notes that the LTD Condominiums project site is a “tricky” one to build on in that the surrounding area is “rather narrow and limiting” due to the unique angles that maximize the space of the site. But he says crews have been relatively fortunate with regard to staging and delivery, especially for being in an urban location. “At the moment, we have a fair bit of space on site to work with,” he states. “The land was part of the railway stockyards, which have been reclaimed and converted into a residential neighbourhood, increasing the density of the downtown core. The roads that will ultimately service the site haven’t been built, so we’ve had room to do staging.”
Another challenge is the building’s proximity to the Lake Ontario floodplain. Although there is a building between LTD Condominiums and the lake’s edge, construction of the foundation was more challenging than usual. “We didn’t have to dewater the site necessarily,” Lloyd says. “This was built within caisson walls to keep the lake water from coming in on the excavation. [But] we built this relatively close to the Garrison Creek culvert, so we had to monitor our proximity to the culvert.”
Construction began in January 2010. By the following January, the precast concrete was completed and the windows were started. By the time Tucker came out to the market for tender in mid-2010, “the construction market was fairly stable and tender closings were reasonably competitive,” Lloyd states. “The economy in Toronto has been moving quite well. There is a lot of condo construction going on at this point in time. We were affected for about six to eight months in 2009, but by 2010, things were starting to come back to normality.”
By December 2010, Tucker had approximately 10 projects under construction, with two or three in the start-up phase. Two of three buildings were in their infancy stages and had yet to break ground. “We are quite busy at this time,” Lloyd notes. “But there have been no delays in terms of material supply. Labour is busy, but we haven’t had a shortage of labour as far as what we’ve been experiencing.”
The company is proud of the quality the contractors are putting into the building, he adds. “They’ve been very good,” Lloyd says. “They certainly have worked hard to propose ways to expedite the project and move it along. All in all, things have progressed quite well and cooperatively. One thing I liked in particular was that we had a chance to build new relationships with trades we hadn’t worked with before and reinforce the relationships we have with trades we’ve worked with in the past, which will help us on future projects.
“We have developed strong relationships with various clients, such as Malibu, who we have worked closely with throughout the construction process,” he continues. “Malibu has a construction representative who coordinates with our on-site personnel. All the decisions and the selection of subtrades and materials are made jointly by Malibu and Tucker.”
Lloyd says Tucker HiRise puts the client first and is known for delivering a quality building on schedule and within budget. It distinguishes itself from other construction managers through its expertise in the residential tower niche and in the unique way it is structured. “The personnel we have at the company sets us apart,” Lloyd states. “We have a fair bit of experience. We have it divided between project managers who are responsible for the administration of the project and the experienced construction managers who oversee the site management team and superintendents.
“The construction managers tend to deal with day-to-day construction and design issues on site,” he elaborates. “The project managers are responsible for coordination and making sure the trades and paperwork are all there. That seems to be working quite nicely for us. In addition to our strong estimating department, which provides project budgets and has established good tendering practices, we have a preconstruction department with two in-house architects. This group is developing the BIM process to assist our clients and their design team in the development and review of working drawings and recommendations on constructability.”
Lloyd has been with the company for about a year and enjoys the work atmosphere. “I like the people,” he notes. “It has a very open attitude, and the people are very easy to talk to and communicate with.”