Canadian Design and Construction Report special feature
Established in 1978, the Chamberlain organization evolved from a different way of looking at projects and the desire to understand the construction and operational aspects of a building while designing it. Through a collaborative approach to project success, today Chamberlain is one of Canada’s top contractors and responsible for successful projects across a variety of industries.
Beginning with a staff of three and a focus on commercial and private enterprise in the Greater Toronto area, Chamberlain has grown to a staff of 35 and a project portfolio that includes institutional and hospitality projects across the country.
Chamberlain president Adrian Mauro says his company has always been adept at identifying and adapting to industry trends. “Our projects have evolved and changed over the years as the marketplace has evolved. In the early 2000s for instance there was an expansion of hotel growth in Canada. Now that is slowing and we’re seeing an increase in the numbers of municipal projects.”
Considering limited available land and current affordability issues, he suggests social housing and mixed use commercial/residential may be the next boom sectors. Whatever the case though, he says Chamberlain will be ready, both to adapt and to apply its successful construction management methodologies.
“Construction practices have evolved over the years to include construction management, design-build, and others. Each of these methodologies has had its ups and downs as the understanding of each changed and as the projects themselves evolved. Everyone knows the traditional design-bid-build construction methods of the 60s don’t work consistently but not everyone has figured out what does.”
Mauro says as projects have become more complex in timing, approvals, design and expectation, the call to do things differently has grown. He says Chamberlain, whose own methodology is modelled more after a lean, simpler version of the U.S. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), has excelled at meeting these expectations.
He says projects today require a process of collaborative intelligence with an architect who is open to collaboration and trades who are willing to voice their opinions and to share their expertise. “Construction management requires a service mentality. It requires a team with the right attitude from the owner right through to the trades and a prime consultant open and willing to tap into the expertise of each member of the team for the benefit of the client.”
Today’s projects he says are too complex to fall under the jurisdiction or decision making of any one person, or any one discipline. He says the company’s construction managers think like consultants, working towards the ultimate solutions for the client.
While some might believe communication and collaboration slows project progress, Mauro says they actually get the work done faster. “Miscommunication adds time; that’s a fact. The traditional construction process is very linear with each stage dependent on the stage prior. Our process allows for decisions to be made as the design is being worked through, so constructability issues are identified and resolved earlier, making for a smoother, faster and more successful project.”
While some companies may struggle to transition to this new kind of construction model, Mauro says it’s what Chamberlain was established to do and the basis of the organization’s project delivery for more than 35 years. The company continuously finds ways to leverage the expertise of each of its team members for the clients’ advantage, whatever the size or scope of the project. “We just completed a project for Niagara on the Lake that had a budget of $1.2 million. Our initial look at costs came in at $1.4 million but together we found a balance that worked for the client’s bottom line and ensured constructability and we met the budget.”
That focus on bottom line, constructability and attention to detail explains some of Chamberlain’s success in bringing U.S. branded hotels into Canada, constructing them in and for the Canadian environment, but to international brand standards and budgets that make them feasible.
Hotels, restaurants, libraries, municipal administration, mixed-use residential and commercial developments, operation centres, and specialty projects are some of Chamberlain’s most remarkable projects and include:
The Juno Beach Centre
Located in the Town of Courseulles-sur-Mer, where Canadian soldiers landed, died, were wounded, and provided heroic support during World War II, the Juno Beach Centre is a living museum that tells the story of Canada’s contribution then and its role in the world today.
A signature building, intended to invite attention and visitors, the historic site is bounded by Sword and Gold Beaches where the British landed to the east and Utah and Omaha Beaches where the Americans landed to the west.
“This project is significant in that it is a modern concept in memorials,” said Mauro. “It is not just a monument to the dead, but a living museum. It is significant in that Canada now has a centre to celebrate the contributions of Canadians then and now and to actively promote Canada in Europe.”
Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
Located at John C. Mauro Hamilton International Airport, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is a signature, delta-shaped 108,000 sq. ft. facility that displays and maintains its unique and operable collection of warplanes including one of two remaining Lancaster bombers in the world, known as Vera.
Designed to integrate all related museum operations under one roof, after a fire destroyed the original hangar in which the museums’ planes were stored, the building program includes a large display hangar, restoration and maintenance workshops, administrative offices, a gift shop, an art gallery, an interactive learning centre, a display area for archival static exhibits, a special events dome, an observation deck, a lounge and a fully equipped cafe.
Niagara-on-the-lake Municipal Campus
This project originated with the development of a new public library when it proved that the existing location in a downtown, heritage building could no longer accommodate and support the space and functional requirements of the town’s library services. “
At the time, there was a public outcry about moving the library and many residents did not support this. However, the creation of a beautiful new library designed to reflect the traditional style of the town, along with extensive public consultation over the course of the project won over the harshest of critics.”
A new fire station was also designed and built on the same site at the time. A new community centre linked to the public library was later added to the complex.
Pearson Airport Air Traffic Control Tower
This Air Traffic Control Tower, located at Toronto- Pearson International Airport, is the first of its kind in North America and has been described as “the world’s most technologically advanced control tower” in a report published by the Reason Public Policy Institute in Washington, USA.
The Tower Cab provides a 360-degree visibility of all operating surfaces. A unique feature is a rotating centre position that optimizes control during late night shifts. As a post-disaster and 24-hour building, safety and reliability were critical. Specialized fire protection and suppression systems are among the building’s extra features.
“Constructing this tower at Canada’s largest and busiest airport (handling one third of Canada’s air passenger traffic and 40 per cent of all air cargo traffic) required exceptional planning, organization, and implementation of project tasks.”
Marriott TownePlace Suites
This new five-storey, 116-suite hotel located in Kanata is designed to accommodate extended stays. Each suite provides living and work spaces in addition to a kitchen with full size appliances.
To address the challenge of Ottawa’s generally cold and snowy winters, a light-gauge steel building system fabricated in panels at a Brantford plant was selected for the structure. These panels were then shipped to the site and erected during the winter of 2015. This panelized system was also designed to meet the requirements of construction in a seismic zone.
For more information about Chamberlain, visit www.chamberlainipd.com.