CANA Construction Ltd.: Building Culture and Commercialism in Calgary

Summer 2010 - CANA Construction Ltd. is part of the CANA Group of Companies, a conglomerate owned entirely by the Simpson family, which has long been recognized for its service and care building what's right for the citizens of Alberta. The Group is comprised of CANA Construction Ltd., which focuses on commercial construction; ACE Construction Company Inc., which is known for its infrastructure and utility construction; Shepard Development Corporation, a commercial, retail and industrial land development company; and HTI, a high-voltage service provider with decades of experience in engineering, procurement, construction, panel wiring, project management, testing and commissioning and maintenance.

CANA Construction works primarily in the Calgary area, near the company’s office; however, it has also worked in various cities throughout Canada and its contributions to the built environment are recognized across the country. Colin Tee, one of the company’s construction managers, recently began construction on a Calgary-based facility that will become part of the entire country’s proud Canadian moments by housing the nation’s most memorable moments in sports history.

Housing Canada’s Sports Memories

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (CSHOF) will be a 40,000-square foot structural steel facility designed by Stantec Architecture. “We have taken the role of project manager for this project, so we’re managing design and subtrades,” Tee says. “It’s a very exciting project to be part of; it is funded by all three levels of the government – federal, provincial and municipal through the City of Calgary.”

Designs for this project began about halfway through 2009. Construction began in February 2010, and the completion date for construction is projected for March 31, 2011. The building is slated to open in June or July 2011. “All the major cities across Canada put in bids to host the new building, and Calgary ended up being awarded it through a City-supported proposal and partnership with Winsport Canada,” explains Tee. “The building location is one of the key components to the architectural success. The building is situated in Canada Olympic park in Calgary, which is arguably the epicenter for winter sports and sports excellence in Canada.”

Additionally, another sports-related building is under construction adjacent to the CSHOF. “It’s an exciting project; the Athletic and Ice Complex, which WinSport Canada is building will make for a unique and awesome experience for all of Canada and Calgary to enjoy,” Tee says.

In addition to its interesting location, the CSHOF is also distinctive for its environmental sustainability; it is a LEED Gold project. “It requires a hands-on involvement from a sustainability perspective; from the design to the materials we’re using, the environmental performance of the building for mechanical and electrical systems and finished materials in the building are all being selected for being environmentally friendly,” Tee points out.

This $30 million project is not without its fair share of challenges, of course. “It’s a very involved project. The unique structure with the steel design is the most difficult portion of construction. Aside from construction itself, the 22,000-square foot interactive exhibit component is very complex and involves coordination between that and the base building construction,” Tee shares. However, “we benefit from having a large construction site. The majority is a brown-field site with not a lot of peripheral buildings, providing ample lay-down and staging area.”

Adding to the Portfolio

Similar to the CSHOF, many of CANA Construction’s projects have a major impact on the culture and structure of Calgary. CANA actually has built the majority of the monumental buildings in Calgary, including the original Saddle Dome and the majority of the structures at Canada Olympic Park, as well.

In mid-2009 CANA Construction completed another project on the list of important Calgary sites. This project, the WestJet Campus Office Facility, was a $94 million project that will now serve as that company’s world headquarters. Measuring 250,000 square feet, the building has six floors and an underground parking garage. Via its attachment to the Calgary International Airport, WestJet employees have easy access to the hangar. One of the more challenging parts of this project was the architectural “wing” over the entrance. Engineers, designers and all of the major trades were required to exercise precise coordination to make this part of the project come together. Additionally, the WestJet building is part of CANA’s sustainability commitment; it is a LEED Silver building thanks to its use of natural light, open offices, geothermal mechanical system and heat recovery system.

Another successful project for CANA Construction was the SMART Technologies Information and Technologies Building in Calgary. For this $55 million project, CANA served as the construction manager and general contractor to finish the 200,000-square foot facility, completed in 2008. To accommodate SMART Technologies’ needs, the building was designed with state-of-the-art amenities that can evolve as technologies improve over time. CANA Construction did the cast-in-place concrete for this building, which was a large part of the construction process. Like many of CANA Construction’s projects, this building was also focused on sustainability and was certified as LEED Gold. Features include a bicycle storage facility, daycare facility for 70 children and a large dining area with audio, visual and presentation capabilities.

The Calgary Court Centre, completed in 2007, was an equally important project for CANA Construction in Calgary. This $300 million facility has 73 court facilities, making it the largest in North America. Two atriums connect towers – the north tower is 24 floors and the south tower is 20 floors. CANA Construction served as the design-builder on this project and successfully combined creative ideas and a strict budget to meet the project owner’s needs.

With this impressive list of completed projects added to almost 70 years and well over $2 billion of accomplishments, CANA Construction has the wealth of experience and management expertise required to upgrade and transform Calgary’s cultural and commercial heritage. The company has indeed, as its history states, “built a lot more than a solid reputation.”