Two years of intense construction was recently acknowledged by the Grand Valley Construction Association during the 2018 Building Excellence Awards gala. Catalyst 137 received the coveted Innovation Award. Zehr Levesque is proud to have successfully led the construction of this iconic building in Kitchener’s Midtown. Under the leadership of John MacDonald, Vice President, the coordination of multiple stakeholders and risk management was dealt with swiftly. This was confirmed by Owner Frank Voisin who stressed that “the entire Project Team approached the task with enthusiasm and deftly managed owner and tenant driven changes,” to execute “a challenging project, at a scale almost unparalleled within our region, on schedule and on budget.”
Envisioned as a hub for local makers innovating the IoT space, the building not only houses local and international tenants but plays host to numerous events. As such, it brings together the business sector and the community-at-large during charity, sales and networking engagements held in its vast common spaces.
Being able to see the evolution from an empty warehouse into an alive venue is the satisfaction Hanna Domagala, who supported the project’s management and led a number of tenant fit-outs, reflects on. She also emphasises the working relationships, often tested but, in the end, strengthened between all parties involved.
It was the day-to-day management of construction activities that proved critical to the completion of Catalyst 137. Undertaking a project with an evolving design as well as difficult conditions uncovered along the way, demanded flexibility and prompt action. This was especially true for Randy Ransome, Site Superintendent, who adapted superbly. Randy could foresee obstacles, suggest improvements and manage many simultaneous tasks and workers on site.
While some challenges could be overcome quickly, others needed input form the entire Consultant team, Zehr Levesque as well as Owner’s approval. For example, the fire protection system, originally planned to be renovated only, required to be brought into the building, as its underground structure proved to be in dire state. A swift redesign and construction rescheduling were executed to keep work flowing uninterrupted. Similarly, the existing site conditions demanded re-evaluation of site design. This was effectively performed while site servicing was already fully underway.
As highlighted by the GVCA during the awards gala, the building’s sheer size presented a notable challenge. The alternate solution to exiting, presented by the building’s designers SRM Architects, was unique to this building and endorsed by the Building Official and Fire Department. Its design and approval process impacted the building permit, therefore construction capabilities. The building’s steel structure also needed improvements and reinforcing to support its new uses and equipment. This in turn reduced the ability for various trades to begin work immediately, thus requiring careful sequencing of trades.
Today, the building houses multiple tenant suites, from single offices to larger company headquarters. Common spaces and communal corridors showcase its industrial history, while providing for new and comfortable amenities, to be enhanced by the café and restaurant/brewery opening soon.
To John MacDonald, Catalyst 137 has been one of those construction adventures he will remember as an “amazing project with hard working people and big dreams.” Ultimately, as construction managers, Zehr Levesque staff are at the forefront key urban transformations. To the Kitchener-Waterloo community, Catalyst 137 is a fantastic example of revitalization efforts that made an unused site another great focus point.