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First purpose-built science centre in 25 years takes shape in Calgary, Alberta

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by Peter Kenter

Structural steel work is rising and near completion on Calgary's Telus World of Science, Canada's first science centre of the twenty-first century and the first purpose-built science centre constructed in more than 25 years.
Telus World of Science, Calgary
Telus World of Science, Calgary

CALGARY

Structural steel work is rising and near completion on Calgary's Telus World of Science, Canada's first science centre of the twenty-first century and the first purpose-built science centre constructed in more than 25 years.

When completed in the fall of 2011, the facility will be one of the country's largest science centres.

The new 153,000-square-foot science centre is budgeted at $160 million, with $40 million committed from the City of Calgary, $40 million from the government of Alberta and $40 million from the federal government.

The remaining $40 million is being raised from community donations, including corporate contributions and those of naming sponsor Telus Corporation.

The original Calgary Telus World of Science was founded in 1976 but the space had outgrown its original mandate.

Located at Calgary’s Deerfoot Trail and Memorial Drive near the Calgary Zoo, the new project is being built on an 18-acre site allowing considerable space for expansion.

It features a 10,000-square-foot atrium, a learning centre and a 240-seat, 10,000-square-foot IMAX-ready domed theatre.

The project is being built by CANA Construction and was designed by lead architects Cohos Evamy.

The lead firm designing the Dome Theatre, as well as the interior spaces, is Kasian Architecture Interior Design & Planning.

The landscape architecture contract was awarded to O2 Planning + Design.

The structural steel for the facility is being fabricated and erected by Triangle Steel of Calgary, one of the city’s oldest steel companies, with more than 35 years in the business.

“There were some aspects of the project that were challenging,” said Bruce Bungay, general manager of Triangle Steel.

“The domed theatre structure is one of a kind with the structure expanding outward from the base.”

The company has committed crews as large as 15 workers at a time on structural steel installation, with as many as 20 shop-floor workers manufacturing the structural steel components.

Structural steel work on the project is currently nearing completion.

“As of mid-May, the building is fully skinned and the shape of the final structure is very evident,” said Bungay.

“It’s certainly a high-profile project and the location has a high visibility to anyone from our competitors to our kids—who are eager to see what the new attraction has in store for them.”

The emerging Calgary project may have contributed to science centre envy.

Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel is leading an effort to initiate a $285-million expansion of Edmonton’s Telus World of Science.

The non-profit Edmonton Space and Science Foundation would like to see the city-owned building tripled in size.

If financing and cost-sharing agreements can be put in place, the group hopes to see a six-year expansion project initiated by 2012.

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