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Steel integral to new Waterdown library's perch

Posted: Jun 3/14

Daily Commercial News and Construction Record


May 29, 2013

Library, Recreation Centre

The potential view of the south elevation of the new Waterdown Library and Flamborough Seniors Recreation Centre from Dundas Street currently being built.

Overlooking Lake Ontario from a dramatic perch on the Niagara Escarpment, the new 23,500-square-foot Waterdown Library and Flamborough Seniors Recreation Centre utilizes the topography it sits on, as well as paying homage to it.

Designed by Rounthwaite, Dick and Hadley Architects Inc. (RDH), with structural design by Halsall Associates, the complex relies heavily on steel to achieve that diverse goal. Although the foundation is a concrete slab built on engineered fill, steel is the structural support for the structure above grade.

Located on Dundas Street in Waterdown, Ont. — which became part of the new amalgamated City of Hamilton in 2001 — it will house an approximately 15,000-square-foot library, a recreation centre, a municipal services office, a small police services office, and archives dedicated to preserving the community’s history.

Construction started in September 2013 and the architects are predicting it will be open later this year.  The general contractor is Bondfield Construction and the structural steel fabricator/erector is Gensteel.

“We elevated the building as high as we could,” says RDH principal Tyler Sharp referring to the library which, at its highest point is exactly one storey above the recreation centre at its lowest point.

There is a three-metre drop from its base down to Dundas Street and, on the other side of that street, the topography continues to fall in elevation until it reaches Lake Ontario.

Library, Recreation Centre

The centre’s public computers and reading commons.

At the same time, the centre has been organized as a single-storey, split-level facility on six levels.  There will be no elevators or escalators.  Instead, there will be a series of “gently sloping barrier-free” walkways.

Of these, the longest will be a glass covered full-length corridor extending from a pedestrian entrance at the recreation centre to a second exit / entrance to a parking lot on the north side.  As they walk from the recreation centre, patrons will be able to look into the library and then access it via another walkway at the end of the corridor.

The library has been structured into terraces, the highest of which will be a reading atrium providing “striking views of the escarpment, tree canopies, and Lake Ontario in the distance.”

“The building is on a typography, but the building itself is a topography.”

Economy, efficient and fast construction and, in particular, extremely close tolerances, favoured the use the use of steel, says Sharp.

A prime example is the use of open web steel joists in the recreation centre to allow space for the mechanical duct system.

Another example is the steel plate bracing system to support 102-mm-thick, five metre-high limestone slabs on the west and east sides of the library, as well as the east side of the recreation centre.

“It’s quite a piece of cladding engineering,” says Sharp, noting the use of the limestone is a pivotal element acknowledging the Niagara Escarpment location.

Other uses of steel include the use of 150-mm-diamater columns set in a nine-metre by nine-metre grid to support the roof.  Structural steel was chosen for the roof framing because it will have less weight than concrete and therefore less vulnerable to seismic forces, says Halsall Associates project manager Donald Guo.

A major distinguishing feature of the library roof is three sawtooth skylights which are connected to the columns with a series of I-Beams.

Approximately 120 tons of steel will have been installed by the time construction is completed, says Guo.