Greenwood College School’s $22 million renovation and expansion Contractor succeeds with challenging urban construction project

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STAFF WRITER – The GTA Construction Report

Toronto’s Greenwood College School is currently undergoing a $22 million expansion and renovation to add facilities and repurpose existing spaces. Since its opening in 2002, the private school has grown from 72 to 429 students in grades seven through 12.

Graham Construction is building the project which has been designed by Montgomery Sisam Architects. The collegial contractor has experience in busy and restricted urban settings, focusing on health and safety for the school, community and construction site.

Project challenges include site isolation, traffic management, perimeter and street hoarding, covered walkways and restricted delivery times. Graham Group project manager Ricardo Pina said the sidewalk to sidewalk construction has caused additional challenges in staging and laydown.

“This is a high-end community and the residents had concerns about noise and traffic we had to take into account as well,” he said. “We have implemented some measures, including regular street sweeping of the block to control mud and dust around the neighbourhood. Accommodating the community during the construction stage is very important for us.”

Pina said the team is about midway through the work, incorporating new construction of 4,700 sq. m. with renovations to an existing 3,800 sq. m. building. The priority now is to finish the building envelope before the winter. He says work began in June 2014 and was hampered by the harsh winter of 2015 however it is currently ahead of schedule.

“Substantial completion of the new building is due by May 2016 and then we’ll begin the work of renovating and tying the two buildings together to be ready for a September opening. We want to stay on top of this winter, no matter what it brings.”

Pina says the new building will include two basements, one of which will be used for music spaces and storage, plus four-storeys above ground. The original school building is three-storeys.

Connecting the old to the new will involve a creative transition. “From the outside where the two buildings join will be the same stucco finish and the same style windows. As you move away from the junction though, the exterior will transition to curtain wall and cladding. Brick will also be used on the south east and west elevations for a traditional yet modern school look.”

The new addition has been designed to achieve LEED certification. It will include a green roof and a fourth floor terrace with trees as an outdoor classroom. High-end mechanical systems will be installed in both buildings for improved energy performance. “Most of the materials are locally sourced including steel from Hamilton. Most of the trades are also from the GTA.”

Noting his company has completed several LEED projects, he says Graham Group is experienced in the requirements, both from the construction and reporting side.

Pina says renovations will transform the existing building into offices and administrative areas. Teaching spaces then will be transitioned to the new building which will include a performance arts theatre, a learning commons, a gymnasium with retractable seating, three modern science labs, a fitness room, music and visual arts studios and a digital media area.

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