Piling Canada

Waterfront Workspace

Trisect Construction Ltd., effortlessly hands-off new building to PortsToronto
Written by Kelly Gray
November 2020

Photo courtesy of Powell Foundations

On-time and on budget are proud achievements for builders and contractors. Doing so during a pandemic is an even larger source of achievement. This is exactly what happened with the new PortsToronto Works Facility Building at 23 Unwin Ave., on Toronto’s downtown waterfront, adjacent to the cruise ship terminal.

A $5 million project handled by general contractor Trisect Construction Ltd., of Mississauga, Ont., the building work commenced in December 2019, and finished up this past August, when Trisect handed over the keys to the 10,000 square foot, 29- by 49-metre structural steel single-storey workshop to PortsToronto.

PortsToronto is an amalgam of operations that include Billy Bishop Airport, the Outer Harbour Marina and the Marine Terminals property, which provide marine transportation, distribution and storage of bulk material at the Port of Toronto. The port is a commercial cargo facility as well as a site for passenger and cruise ship docking and servicing. The location is adjacent to the city’s core where ships have been mooring for over 225 years.

According to Trisect Construction project manager Jeff Davis, the new building offers state-of-the-art facilities to PortsToronto workers. “Inside, we installed three jib cranes from O’Brien Lifting Solutions Inc. These pieces of equipment are manufactured in Ontario. We are happy to have been able to source these locally. The cranes come with spherical bearings that make them easy to move,” he said, adding that the building also features a woodworking area, welding site and plasma covers, as well as offices and washrooms.

Trisect Construction is a well-known Ontario contractor with over 25 years in industry. Standout projects include Toronto’s Ritz Carlton Hotel and Toronto Pearson International Airport’s baggage handling facility as well as a host of other structures. It is this considerable experience that allowed Trisect’s crews to take unique aspects of this project in stride. Challenges included massive piling, waterfront trenching, new technology such as rooftop systems that both heat and cool, and unique fume extractors with horizontal arms.

Solid footing

The ground level surface was slab on grade. Underneath the structure, Powell Foundations pulled out all the stops to create a solid base for the new building. Here, Abhishek Chatterjee, Powell’s project coordinator, says the piling depth was substantial given the location of the site.

“When we received the soil report we saw that close to the shore the bedrock was 27 metres and went out to 49 metres. We used pipe piles rather than H-piles because these resist buckling and work well at depth,” he said.

Powell’s crews started work on the foundation Nov. 12, and finished Nov. 24. “We took one month to prep the site and then 13 days to complete the actual piling. We were able to place 2.9 piles per day and these piles were of substantial length. Crews placed 38 steel piles altogether, reaching from 29 metres to 49 metres,” said Chatterjee, mentioning that they placed 1,384 metres of pile to complete the job.

“Our main challenge was to anticipate the depth. We had three soil reports that showed different depths. The report variation created a question on how much steel to procure. Fortunately, our team has a lot of experience. We have done 30 jobs in Ontario that were similar, and we were able to come within five per cent of our needs. Overall we completed the job on schedule and within budget.”

According to Chatterjee, the materials were very important given the depth of the job. They turned to Interpipe for the steel piles and discovered that the company had stock. The piles had a yield strength of 35 ksi and tensile strength of 60 ksi, and were provided on time, a factor that kept Powell on target. Other companies that helped keep things running smoothly were Berminghammer Foundation Equipment and Selix Equipment. Selix provided a Soilmec SC-90 HD crawler crane while Berminghammer came forward with a B32 direct-drive diesel impact hammer to get the piles in the ground.

“Berminghammer equipment is very efficient. We are concerned about the environment in everything we do and so we chose this piece of equipment for this reason as well as its other capabilities,” said Chatterjee, remarking that the device features low emissions, environmentally friendly no-drip operation using biofuels and oils, and comes with energy monitors and control systems.

“The hammer reduces air pollution and has less idling time. We spent less money on fuel and, the fact it runs quieter means less noise disturbance. By undertaking proper maintenance on the equipment, we also saw a smooth working performance with no downtime. This aspect was a major factor in our on-time achievement,” Chatterjee said, adding that having the right equipment on the site often means a reduction in construction time. “Less time means less cost and that makes everyone happy.”

“The office area air is conditioned by a highly efficient Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system, which uses a refrigerant-based heat pump, capable of heating or cooling, as required,” said Davis. He says that VRF is one of the most energy-efficient, zero-carbon options for HVAC systems on the market. “Ventilation for the office area is provided by an energy recovery ventilator, which reduces energy consumption associated with the incoming fresh air.”

According to Davis, fresh air is just part of an enhanced work environment where low-flow plumbing fixtures further reduce water and energy consumption in the facility. Staff can also quench their thirst with the filtered, clean water in the lunchroom or at the hands-free, filtered, bottle filling station located in the main corridor of the office area.

The welding workshop has been equipped with highly durable and functional fume extraction arms, complete with double articulation extension booms. “The adjustable extension booms provide coverage for the entire welding workshop, enabling operational flexibility for the staff,” he said.

A new compressed air system, with evenly distributed air outlets, provides the staff with the flexibility to connect pneumatic equipment where most convenient. In addition to energy-efficient, modulating gas-fired, make-up air units, radiant heaters were installed near the roll-up doors, promoting occupant comfort and minimizing energy consumption. Programmable controls were installed in the workshops to maintain constant pressurization. This equipment further improved occupant comfort as well as energy consumption by optimizing the operation of the various ventilation equipment.

COVID-19 presented another unique set of circumstances that the general contractor had to contend with during the project. Davis says that worker cohorts for the project ran around 20 to 25 people and included skilled trades.

“Safety protocols are always important. We follow all the guidelines. We are COR-certified and have a Workplace Task Standard detailing Trisect’s Pandemic Response protocol for COVID-19. Our crews are also very detail conscious. As a result, we were able to complete the job without any injuries,” he said, noting that crews had temperatures checked and their overall health monitored during the project.

“We asked the standard questions like, ‘Do you feel well?’ and, ‘Have you been in contact with anyone who is ill?’ of every worker when they came in each morning. Staff were checked out on arrival and again when it was time to go home,” he said, commenting that while COVID-19 is creating trying times for society at large, his crews took it in stride.

“Trenching was another challenge. We continually added granular material because of water egress and had to use pumps, but this is all in a day’s work. And, while this presented a bit of a concern, this was not out of the ordinary for a job such as this. We were fortunate to have good trades and partners on this project. For example, Powell [Foundations] was able to come in at the right price and they know what they are doing.”  Piling Canada

Category: Projects

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