A lone tower crane hovers above the muddy construction site along Center Avenue NE in Calgary’s Bridgeland community.
Below, a massive concrete superstructure begins to take shape.
The mechanical and electrical trades are finishing the rough work and the teams have already started the interior and exterior structural work. A second tower crane will be erected soon to help with the work.
About 70 workers in mechanics, electricity, formwork, rebar, carpenters and scaffolders are currently on site.
Construction of the $130.5 million venture, called Bridgeland Riverside Continuing Care Center, has been taking place for just over a year. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
“The project continues to be on time and on budget despite any challenges that may arise from the COVID-19 pandemic,” notes Robert Storrier, spokesperson for Alberta Infrastructure.
Indeed, construction continues on a west tower on the busy site. Suspended concrete slabs have been poured and construction is progressing on the foundations, columns, elevator and stair cores and walls of the main structure. This part of the work should continue until the spring.
Soon, crews will begin work on the building envelope, which includes the roof and exterior cladding. Various steel work will also begin and stairs will be put in place.
FWBA Architects of Lethbridge, the oldest permanent architectural firm in Western Canada, designed the building in accordance with Alberta Health Services (AHS) infection control control as well as provincial care guidelines continuous. Clark Builders, part of Turner Construction Company, is the project general.
The structure is built to a minimum LEED Silver rating. The architects put a lot of thought into the outdoor space of the complex and incorporated green roofs, a small playground, a community garden as well as an outdoor patio.
Renderings of the project show an aesthetically pleasing five-story building with a white, beige, and brown facade and an outdoor terrace on each level. The main entrance has a terraced area surrounded by shrubs and a garden and at the southeast corner of the complex there will be a curved walkway.
When completed, the center will have care beds for people with complex needs instead of hospitalizing them.
“This project will help address an urgent need in the community to increase access to continuing and complex residential care,” Storrier said. “This project will also relieve pressure on Calgary hospitals by reducing the number of people waiting in hospital for continuing care. In addition to residential care, the facility will also offer outpatient services and day programs for seniors.
Around 200 clients will live in the care centre. About half will be on secure floors and the other half on insecure floors. There will be a mix of adults and seniors with a wide range of care needs ranging from minimal to complex. Those with more complex needs may have dementia, brain damage, mental illness, addiction issues, or developmental disabilities.
Storrier says the most complex cases will reside and be restricted to one of the secure units and will only be allowed to leave the facility under staff supervision. A secure outdoor space has been integrated into the overall design of the center to meet the needs of people housed in the secure units.
The project is being built in Bridgeland because many seniors and Calgarians who need health services live in or near downtown or surrounding neighborhoods. The center is easily accessible by public transport and roads for clients and healthcare staff and is close to medical centers including Foothills Medical Center, Peter Louogheed Center and Rockyview General Hospital.
The neighborhood and its amenities are also known to be an ideal setting for residents and reception staff.
When designing the facility, the architect aimed to integrate natural light, pathways and gardens to support residents. Consideration was also given to integrating the parks and trails of the center with the local community.
Funding for the center comes from the province. To make way for the new center, a Cross Bow building on the site was demolished in June 2018.
The new center will be operated in partnership with Carewest, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AHS that has a long history of providing care for seniors and adults with complex needs.
When the project was announced, some residents of the surrounding community questioned the safety of the complex. However, AHS and Carewest have assured local residents that they will implement well-established and proven practices and procedures to ensure safety.
AHS, Carewest and Alberta Infrastructure worked closely with the city and the Bridgeland Riverside Community Association to develop the design and plans for the center. Many changes to the design layout, pathways to access points and ideas for gardens and outdoor spaces have incorporated feedback from the association to ensure they are a livable and walkable community that is sustainable.