Hamilton Transit Centre

As originally seen in Award Magazine: digital.canadawide.com

Despite the massive size of the new Hamilton Transit Centre (HTC) in Richmond (eight buildings on site, including a 100,000-square-foot maintenance structure), the project was developed with painstaking care paid to environmental considerations – to the point where the nesting patterns of killdeer were closely monitored during preload.

That may seem trivial, but it supports the contention of all parties involved that despite the challenges of creating HTC, the work was accomplished on time and on schedule. “A lot of issues had to be addressed and regulations abided by, but we had key people with plenty of transit experience, such as site supervisor Mark Fosty, who helped keep costs down,” says Daniel Tinnelly from Bird Construction.

That experience was embodied by the team at Architecture49 and WSP Canada Inc., whose transportation practice is a national leader in the planning, design and delivery of transportation fixed facilities.

Timely completion of the project was vital, as HTC had to support the operation and maintenance of 300, 40-foot equivalent buses, including as many as 80 community shuttles and 150 compressed natural gas (CNG) fuelled buses, and be open for business on Labour Day, 2016.

HTC’s main buildings in addition to the maintenance facility are an operations centre, service delivery facility, washing facility, fueling depot and oily wastewater treatment plant. Function very much dictated form, as bus operators receive their daily assignments in the service delivery building and collect their buses from the parking lanes. The buses are then returned after fueling and washing (unless scheduled for maintenance), in which case they are delivered to the maintenance facility or parked outside it.

TransLink and Coast Mountain Bus Company recognized the need for a new transit centre and started planning for one in 2009. “The 7.3-hectare site ultimately selected used to accommodate a recycling facility and container transfer operation, so environmental rehabilitation was a main consideration,” says Marc Bosse, geotechnical engineer at Thurber Engineering Ltd. “We collaborated closely with Golder Associates Ltd., the environmental people, who would eventually play a critical role in identifying and analyzing what was extracted from the ground and what was acceptable to put back in.”

In many ways, the project was ideally suited to Architecture49’s talent for integrating high technology systems and environmental sustainability with architecture, taking a holistic view of infrastructure and flow. Because of the CNG component, the main buildings required different design considerations, including floors with radiant heat.

Also, because Architecture49 is committed to integrating transit facilities as gracefully as possible into neighbourhoods, they worked closely with WSP and the subconsultants to ensure lighting was developed to keep as much of it directed to the facility and not the surrounding residences.

The architects’ ongoing goal of using timeless, long-lasting materials translated into a dramatic visual statement of wood ceilings and roofs – not only would the wood impart much needed warmth to HTC, it would be sourced from pine beetle stands, thus helping the project achieve LEED Silver certification.

Moreover, wood was used wherever possible due to TransLink’s commitment to support the B.C. timber industry. The huge maintenance building used CLT, while the operations building used glulam timber for about 30 percent of the structure.

Bosse notes that a significant amount of the contaminated soil removed from the site was replaced by recycled concrete. “We used it on the eastern side of the property and it’s a tough material to work with, but it met environmental criteria,” he says. 

Site preparation was extended for several months, since it was determined that preload had to be raised to account for settlement issues. Bosse, an avid bird lover, says the preload became a popular nesting site for killdeer, which caused a certain amount of consternation. “We weren’t allowed to disturb them, but fortunately the birds had finished nesting by the time work geared up,” he recalls. Fill placement for the preload began in the fall of 2013, and by March of 2015 the final preload (for the operations building) was removed.

Bird commenced work first on the fuel and wash facilities in late 2013, each about 9,000 square feet in size, but regulations obliged the company to build a separate fuel canopy for gasoline fueling.

“Everything related to CNG fueling was constructed to be explosive proof, meaning lots of reinforced concrete and blocks, and everything from dispensers to garage door motors required enclosures – so it was quite an involved process,” says Tinnelly. Altogether, about 1,700 tons of steel was used for all eight buildings.

Tinnelly goes on to note that the biggest issue overall was a Telus cellular tower that stood in the middle of the operations building; it had to be disassembled and a new tower built nearby. “That required extensive collaboration with Telus and BC Hydro for the transfer of services,” says Tinnelly. “Again, it was a complication, but fortunately not overly daunting.”

To prevent contamination problems, all stormwater was directed to a treatment plant, and precautions were put in place in the event of a CNG leak. During construction, Bird also treated water on the site for total suspended solids (regulations prevented contaminated water from being removed from the site, so treatment was a preferable alternative to moving water around during excavation); fortunately, the water was proven to be free of contaminates and Bird was able to discharge it back into the Fraser River.

Even though the HTC won’t be fully complete until 2017, the buses are already housed and running out of the service facility. Equally important, the bold horizontal lines of each building, highlighted by dramatic yellow and green accents, lend the centre the overall appearance of belonging to a high-tech business park. “TransLink now has a facility that is the hub for mass transit throughout Metro Vancouver,” says Tinnelly. “We’re very happy with the outcome.”
Hamilton Transit Centre : News & Media : Bird Construction