GTA Construction Report special feature
The new 132,000 sq. ft. Thornhill Mercedez-Benz dealership that opened June 22 offers greater display capabilities, improved customer service and an energy-efficient design.
Richard Ziegler Architect designed the building at 228 Steeles Ave. W., while Fieldgate Construction Management Ltd. was the project’s general contractor. Steelcon Fabrication Inc. provided steel fabrication and detailing for the relocation and expansion of the corporate dealership that originally opened in 1988.
Two buildings on the 3.2 acre site were demolished in Nov. 2013 to make way for the new structure with three levels, two above-ground and one below. The lower level includes an 18 bay service department and 118 underground inventory parking spots.
Fieldgate senior project manager James Ricchetti says the location and the lower level requirements created significant challenges. “The basement is 20 ft. high. We were removing 100 loads of dirt a day for more than four months to get the site cleared and there was no one (disposal) site that could handle the volume so that meant using different sites and co-ordinating details.”
Since the building is tight to all four property lines, he says nothing much else could be done during excavation work given the space and traffic control required.
A news release announcing the project said the new dealership would include “ample space over two floors, incorporating an extensive new and pre-owned vehicle showroom totaling 36,000 sq. ft.”
The basement area service bays Ricchetti says were necessary to meet the required showroom and parking spaces. He says LED lighting has been used to make the space bright, sound diffusion technology has been installed and pictures displaying various cars are on display. “When you’re down there, it doesn’t feel at all like a basement.”
A four-ply roof covered with stone will also accommodate parking at the building’s rear, with access through a nearby freight elevator.
To handle the unique requirements for material and facility management, including oil and the exhaust generated by the underground cars, Ricchetti says Mercedes brought in its own experienced trades during the project’s final months.
The dealership also houses a dedicated AMG Performance Centre and a smart (small car) Centre. An additional 43,000 sq. ft. has been earmarked for the service area, and includes 32 state-of-the-art work bays, six detailing bays as well as a six vehicle drive-through.
The new site also offers significant client parking enhancements compared to the previous location.
The release also noted “the layout of the new facility will follow the Mercedes-Benz proprietary Auto Haus design concept, which promotes “the widespread use of glass to maintain transparency and create a bright, open concept feeling.”
In this Ricchetti says concessions had to be made. “The original design called for window sizes and thickness that were not cost-effective. We were able to move to four mullions from three and achieved important cost savings.”
The new Mercedes-Benz retail corporate identity, which includes black with accents of silver, “reminiscent of the three-pointed star, will replace the blue colours traditionally seen in Mercedes-Benz stores.”
This, Ricchetti says, supports Mercedes interest in a simple building design to better showcase the cars. “The corporate colour design actually changed mid-way through construction, moving away from the old black, white and blue to just black and white.”
Energy efficiencies have been built into the design through HVAC systems.