The new Patient Support Center (PSC) at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is not a typical building.
Inspired by the very patients it is designed to support, the building’s exterior is designed to reflect a children’s crayon box and is one component of a highly individualized approach that promotes health and well-being.
“We used that as inspiration for all the colors” seen on both the facade and the stairs, said Luca Visentin, Senior Project Manager and Principal at B+H Architects.
“We made it very clear in our proposal that we really envision this as something different. We wanted to make a statement here. This is something special. This is something that is tailored for SickKids.”
The PSC is a 22-story educational, training and administrative building. The building launches Project Horizon, a complete redevelopment of the hospital’s campus.
As a building architect, landscape architect, and interior designer, you had to think about how to design the building “outside-in and inside-out,” Visentin explained.
One of the main considerations was user well-being.
Some of the design elements include optimizing daylight exposure; Building core including elevators and washrooms located to the north to create transparency between the buildings and an open floor slab; Creation of community and individual spaces; Moving the mechanical penthouse to the fifth floor to make room for a rooftop terrace with city views upstairs; a wellness center; facilities at the end of the trip; use of district energy; and no underground parking.
During the design process, the architects had to consider constraints on the building’s height, trajectory for the SickKids helipad, and other required zoning setbacks, resulting in a unique form.
“The envelope constraints we had within the building we used to adjust and inform the final shape,” Visentin said.
For Ryan Evans, site manager at PCL Constructors Canada Inc., the project required a lot of careful planning and coordination.
“There was a lot of thinking ahead of how we were going to access and build certain parts,” Evans said. “We had a plan where we knew we could run some of the challenges and try to clear them before they came up.”
While the topping-out ceremony for the building took place last week, there is still a lot to do.
“It’s really the end of the structural piece, which means it means a change in focus from pushing the building up to completing the building envelope and completing the interior,” Evans said. “It marks the end of working with some of our local traders.”
PCL’s scope of services includes the complete construction and furnishing of the office tower. The team took control of the site in January 2019. There was an existing eight-story building on the property that had to be demolished.
“We brought it up to par, and that included an existing bridge connecting this building to the hospital’s main atrium building,” Evans said.
“We’re almost done enclosing the building with our curtain wall, so the building envelope is almost complete.”
The bridge was also part of the PCL contract but required a different level of planning with the hospital staff as it crosses a city street and connects to the existing building.
“We had been planning to install the bridge for a year and a half or two,” Evans said. “We closed the hospital’s main entrance and Elizabeth Street for two weekends.”
Further coordination was required for the helipad.
“We had to coordinate the locations of our cranes, how our cranes were set up, to make sure they didn’t go into that trajectory at any point,” Evans said. “We set up a communication protocol with them (the hospital) so that if they knew a helicopter was coming in, we were notified so we could halt any activity that might have been affected.”
While the project faced some hurdles related to COVID-19 and labor disputes, site restrictions were the biggest challenge.
“One of our biggest challenges was coordinating the space we needed and the equipment we needed, cranes and hoists, etc., given the confines of the site,” Evans said. “The key has been working with our partners in the hospital and starting these conversations early so we can work through any details that need to be addressed.”
Completion is planned for mid-2023.
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