Acden Corporate Headquarters and Fleet Facility

As Originally Seen in Award Magazine :

When the decision was made in 2007 to construct the Acden Corporate Headquarters and Fleet Facility in Fort McMurray, the executive team involved had a clear vision: to set a new standard for all businesses in the oilsands by demonstrating a long-standing commitment to sustainable stewardship. This vision was shared by its ownership group, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

The Acden facility, designed by Stantec Architecture and built by Bird Construction, is the largest and tallest privately held commercial office building in Fort McMurray. 

Located in the TaigaNova Eco-Industrial Park, the three-storey administration building was built to house office space, training rooms, libraries and storage facilities. The interior features an atrium with a roof structure that is carried by 45-foot-high architectural glulam columns and beams.

Situated alongside the administration building is a 21,000-square-foot fleet services facility that maintains and cleans the 170 vehicles in the corporate fleet, as well as third-party client vehicles. “Prior to opening the new facility, Acden leased five office spaces throughout Fort McMurray. We were in need of additional space to house our continuously expanding operations,” explains Bryn Botham, VP and CFO of Acden. “Centralizing the businesses at a single facility served to consolidate our administration group, boost corporate recognition within the region and stabilize our overheads.”

Todd Hartley, principal at Stantec Architecture, says the initial aim when conceptualizing the facility was to create a complex that would consolidate all of Acden’s business units in a single location, while providing space for the company’s continued growth.

“As most of its businesses have an environmental impact, sustainability and a commitment to building a LEED facility was also a key driver,” he notes. 

In keeping with the project’s aim of environmental sustainability, construction was made up of 25.6 per cent recycled materials, 33 per cent regional materials and 74 per cent of the wood used for constructing the facility is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified.

The facility is also currently targeting LEED Gold status. It boasts a number of sustainable design features including the use of untreated rainwater as a usable resource and the use of solar panels
to pre-heat the fleet service facility’s wash bay water. 

The office roof has a highly-reflective membrane to reduce solar heat gain in the summer and minimize the impact on the cooling systems. The rainwater runoff from the roof is captured and used to augment the vehicle wash bay water utilization. Solar panels on the service shop roof are utilized to preheat the water and 70 per cent of the wash bay water is recycled.

Head inside the building and you will find living walls and water displays in an atrium that creates a fresh and open space. By utilizing an indoor living wall, the Acden administration building is  able to increase interior oxygen levels and air purity.

With an open concept in mind, the central atrium, floating staircase and elevated walkways all allow for a spacious environment. All common and working areas were designed to benefit from a high amount of natural light, with 90 per cent of occupied spaces having a direct line of sight to windows – allowing the building to use less energy for lighting and providing a connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.


“As this project is in Fort McMurray, daylighting strategies were key to the overall planning,” explains Hartley. “Limited daylight exists for most of the year, and during the summer months excess daylight is an issue and therefore control of both of those situations needed to be paramount to the concept.”

He adds, “Shading devices are used on the exterior glazing to control heat gain during summer months and aid in energy efficiency and user comfort. They are designed to shade high-angle sun in summer months and allow more penetration of lower-angle sun in winter months.”

Brad Bullock, structural consultant at Stantec Consulting, points out that the office building has a full-height atrium that essentially splits the building into two separate structures. The atrium protrudes above the main roof with clerestory windows on either side,
above the main roof level. He adds that consideration had to be given to controlling movement of the two sides of the building, as well as allowing some differential movement between the structure and the brittle architectural features, such as the clerestory windows. 

“The architect specified continuous glulam columns for the full height of the atrium. These provide an elegant look to the already striking three-storey atrium. Some consideration, in the early stages of the design, was given to the possibility of specifying these as woodclad steel columns, but we wanted to find a way to use authentic glulam columns,” says Bullock.

While these columns were used to vertically support the atrium roof, steel columns or cantilevered steel beams, hidden within the architectural finishes, were installed to provide vertical support for the adjacent floor structure. Unobtrusive steel riveted connections were made between the steel floor structure and columns to provide lateral stability to the glulam columns.

Both Bird Construction Company and Stantec boast an impressive history in large-scale projects of this nature, however, the team says there are certain elements of the complex that stand out from a structural/design aspect. 

These two buildings are the only conventional steel buildings in the Taiganova Eco-Industrial Park. All other buildings are pre-engineered, with the Acden facility boasting a LEED designation, atrium, solar panels on the maintenance building and in floor heating in the maintenance building,” says Ken Gin, project manager at Bird Construction Company.

“There are no comparative facilities like this in Northern Alberta. The high quality of design, focus on natural materials and quality of daylighting in both buildings, is found nowhere else in the region.” Hartley says.

By combining traditional aboriginal values with modern technologies, the facility has created a synergy between new and old that appeals to employees, visitors and the community.
Acden Corporate Headquarters And Fleet Facility : News & Media : Bird Construction