CANA Construction

CANA Construction has built a solid reputation in Calgary, Alberta, over the past 70 years as the go-to company for general contracting services in the area. Its dominating presence in the province has led to many strong business relationships, including one with the University of Calgary, which chose it to build the university’s new Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

“The company is Alberta-based and is focused on growth, and a lot of our clients are developers here who have the same goal,” Construction Manager Nick Konicek says. “We work to understand our clients’ project needs or objectives and execute those as best we can.” 

CANA Construction has remained a family owned business since its inception in 1942 and was the first general contractor to execute a construction management project in Calgary. It was also the first to use mechanical and electrical construction management services, the company attests. “We provide quality construction strategies and solutions in a safe environment, on budget and on schedule, using a think straight, talk straight, do it right once attitude with no surprises,” the company says. 

A Passion for Learning

A $40 million donation from Don and Ruth Taylor made it possible for the University of Calgary to build a new, one-of-a-kind institute, which will allow it to take the lead in educational innovation. The university will do so by researching the most effective methods for engaging students, by supporting faculty to be the best teachers they can be and by providing some of the most innovative learning spaces available anywhere in North America. 

“The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning is a cornerstone of the University of Calgary and will allow the university to better adapt to the anytime and anywhere learning needs of its students,” the university says. “It will shine a light on teaching excellence and serve as a touchstone for educational improvements across the country.” 

CANA Construction was awarded the pre-construction and construction services in 2012 for the 50,000-square-foot, two-storey building. The University of Calgary Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning has been designed to maximize natural light and for ultimate flexibility because the walls, floors and furniture can be adapted to the learning needs of those using the space. “There is a forum space that will be used for classrooms, but also has retractable seating that can be used for keynote speaker space,” Konicek explains. “It can hold 483 people in that space.” 

Down the center of the building is a large, open atrium with two exposed steel trusses as the focal point of the public space because they are each 220 feet long and 27 feet high. The Vierendeel trusses are unique, Konicek says, because of its perpendicular members rather than the more common diagonal members. “It’s a very unique building,” he adds. “The atrium has the large trusses with glass windows all around it to allow lots of light in and create more open space.” 

Team Effort

CANA Construction spent months working with the design consultants developing a design within budget because the design team wanted to reuse the Nickel Arts Museum building, which is where the Taylor Institute is being built. However, CANA Construction advised it would have been more costly to reuse most of the building, so it was decided only to reuse the existing foundation. 

The Nickel Arts Museum building was demolished in August 2013 and construction began in February 2014 on the Taylor Institute with a goal of completing the building in early 2016. “Taylor Institute is a LEED Gold project, so when we did the demolition of the building we recycled 90 percent of the material,” Project Superintendent Larry Dunsmore says. “We are proud of that. To achieve maximum credits for LEED construction waste management, 75 percent recycled materials must be maintained.” 

A significant amount of preplanning was required for the Taylor Institute. For example, the steel trusses were built off-site in a shop environment and then hauled to the construction site. “That was a pretty unique part of the job,” Dunsmore notes. “We had to be approved by the city of Calgary and the Alberta government to haul the large truss load at night.”

Because of Calgary’s frigid winters with wind chills recently at negative 18 degrees F, CANA Construction had to get the building enclosed as quickly as possible.  “We came up with a plan to start on the south side and focused on closing that while the trusses go up on the north side,” Dunsmore says. “A lot of preplanning went into this and our team worked together and focused on different ways to get the projects done.” 

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