Construction of a Mass Timber Build Visitor Centre
This Parks Canada visitor centre welcomes tens of thousands of visitors annually from around the world! Its construction was a major renovation project comprising of the demolition of the existing visitor reception centre building and the reconstruction and expansion of a revamped building, seven times larger than the original one. The new 1,125m2 facility meets the viewscape and historical interpretation requirements of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, while supporting a safer, inclusive and barrier-free environment for visitors.
More specifically, we were responsible for the:
Significant demolition of the existing building;
Re-construction, renovation and expansion of the new centre, which includes a new public foyer with reception and exhibit facilities, an expanded staff office wing, new interior design finishes, and central communications and utility spaces;
Expansion of the parking lot to accommodate bus drop-off zones, Recreational Vehicle (RV) parking and Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations;
Installation of high efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), electrical, and water systems;
Construction management of the load bearing stud walls, installation of glued laminated timber and roof trusses;
Building of a dog park, which we then donated to Parks Canada as a legacy to the community, and its visitors, of both the two and four-legged kind.
Mass Timber Build
In July 2022, the project achieved a critical milestone. It received its first shipment of mass timber framing with a 20-week lead time. The glued-laminated timber beam’s spans range from 9 to 18 metres, the heaviest of which was over 3,000 kgs or 7,000 lbs. While Pomerleau has completed more than 20 mass timber construction projects throughout Canada worth more than one billion dollars, this is only the second mass timber application we have executed in Newfoundland and Labrador. Of the 14 timber beams used in the new structure, seven were refurbished from the original building, which was a positive element in helping the project obtain LEED certification.
Targeting LEED Silver Certification
A compelling aspect of this project was its objective to obtain LEED Silver certification. The following are all key elements in support of LEED certification:
Use of mass timber and wood framing;
Constructing a unique recreational/cultural facility with consideration of its integration with the natural environment;
Reusing the existing solar panels;
Integrating more energy efficient HVAC, electrical, and water systems into the design to remedy increases to the building’s footprint.
The remote location (700km from St. John’s, and 120km from next largest urban centre, Corner Brook) presented significant logistical challenges for construction of this magnitude. Most materials needed to be shipped from various parts of the island, all of which rely on ocean transport to receive bulk shipment. Solutions to counter the remote nature of the project included setting up a mobile concrete plant to maintain concrete quality and using insulated concrete forms, normally seen on residential construction projects because they were readily available in the region.
Protecting an Endangered Species
The original visitor centre included a theatre that once was a popular roosting place for a colony of little brown bats, which are an at-risk species. To ensure that the bats had a more viable and permanent habitat, Parks Canada installed bat condos in an effort to relocate the bats. Throughout the entire construction process, by incorporating schedule changes, Pomerleau reduced the amount of noise and vibrations and ensured that there were no idling machines around the bat boxes.