Seton Professional Centre
As originally seen in Award Magazine December 2016 edition : awardmagazine.com
Visitors approaching the new Seton Professional Centre (SPC) will soon be in for a surprise, in the form of a distinctive piece of public art, says owner/developer Warren Paulsen of Brookfield Residential Properties Inc.
“We are awaiting the arrival of a piece of art that is designed to give people something to smile about when you are coming out of the hospital across the street,” explains Paulsen. SPC sits directly adjacent to the main entrance of the South Calgary Health Campus. “We wanted to add a little humour to the day for those who may be coming for a medical procedure, or who are visiting someone in the hospital.”
Paulsen is being cagey about the artwork, which is due to be installed early in 2017, only because Brookfield wants to surprise and delight the community of Seton, as they have attempted to do throughout each phase of development.
“We have tried in every phase to do something interesting,” he says, “But it is difficult to talk about just this single building without talking about the entire community. SPC is really a prime example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.”
Seton is Calgary’s new south urban district, boasting one of the most comprehensive mixed-use developments in North America, over two-and-a-half-million square feet of office and retail space, a 16-acre Seton Central Park, public library, schools, 1,300 multi-family residences, a seniors’ assisted living facility, an active main street, Calgary’s new South Health Campus and a regional recreation centre.
The LEED Silver “A” class building is built in accordance with medical Seton Professional Centre zoning guidelines, and has two below-grade parkade floors for approximately 200 cars, which splits into two building towers, with three above-grade structural steel floors with concrete toppings, a mechanical penthouse floor on each building and an exterior parking structure.
Over the next 10 years, in one of North America’s fastest growing cities, the Seton community will be complete, if all goes according to plan. And, as everyone involved in this project has learned, things don’t always go according to plan.
“Development in Calgary is always unpredictable,” admits Paulsen. “When you go through a 20-year project you get different people through the process who were not necessarily there at the time of the original approvals.”
Eric Longchamp, senior architectural design/studio lead with Gibbs Gage Architects, says Gibbs Gage has been working on Seton for 16 years, and started the master planning and the architectural guidelines phases. Longchamp himself has been working on SPC since 2007.
“In 2007 we went through a two-year collaborative process. When the economy crashed in 2008, it was shelved for a while,” says Longchamp. “But one of the highlights of working on projects like this is that Brookfield persevered with innovative strategies to find a way to realize the project.”
Gibbs Gage’s original thinking was to try to make SPC more of a landmark building, but they ultimately decided on a design that doesn’t compete with the hospital and the other buildings in the area. The result: a sleek, modern building with very clean lines, featuring white composite metal panels and clear spandrel glass, resulting in an esthetic that is almost the opposite of the hospital design.
Longchamp says that it is not uncommon for Brookfield to want to invest in public art, and the new installation will dramatically change the face of the building. “This came after the building was designed, and I was pretty hesitant at first to see how it would interact with the building, but now I think it will be one of my favourite features of this project.”
The footings and roof supports are already in place for the artwork, confirms Baldwin Asala, project manager with Bird Construction Company. “Construction of a building opposite one of the biggest hospitals in the province creates its own unique challenges. Traffic and pedestrian control, including foundation-shoring details had to be carefully designed,” says Asala.
“The geometry of the building effectively creates a true horseshoe courtyard to the south of the building, which contains an exterior elevated precast parking structure. Walkways adjacent to the building reinforce this concept and create transitional spaces between this building and the community. The building design and landscaping are pedestrian-friendly and create a uniform community campus environment. “It is always about details, construction methods and safety,” adds Asala.
For example, electrical details like LED lighting for the decorative ground lighting and throughout the interior building are par for the course for Mulvey + Banani International (Alberta) Inc. And, in spite of housing some of the most high-tech medical equipment, no special generators or electrical systems were required to house the tenants of SPC. According to partner Jaycee Elliott, “The process was pretty standard with no hiccups, except the evolving codes did impact the time frame in getting it built.”
Elliott agrees that working with Brookfield made their jobs easier when transitioning in the updated safety codes required by the city. “The owner is really good at keeping on top of that stuff, and now we have a building that exceeds code expectations. Everyone was great all around,” says Elliott.
Hans Rohmann, LEED AP principal with Smith + Andersen, explains: “Building codes did change during the construction of the project, but the building permit was achieved prior to this change. As the client was pursuing LEED certification, we were confident that any potential changes would have a minor impact on the overall design of the building.”
Mechanical systems were designed to provide the most flexibility possible for future tenant improvements, and were selected so that tenants could operate on different schedules and with widely varying heating and cooling demands. “All mechanical equipment is linked back to the building automation system allowing landlord and tenant to optimize the operating schedule,” Rohmann adds.
Brookfield is proud of its newest addition to the Seton Community, and with the mystery artwork about to be installed, the community will really have something to smile about. “It’s as if this building has always been on the ground like a beautiful piece of sculpture,” concludes Asala.