Great Canadian Construction and DIRTT use open-minds and quick collaboration to make Centennial Innovation Hub a success

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Ontario Construction News special feature

The best collaborative projects make effective use of the strengths of all parties, and the work between Great Canadian Construction and DIRTT Environmental Solutions on Centennial College’s new Innovation Hub was no different.

Centennial had a list of specific needs for this project to be a success: its new space in Scarborough, being used for research for the aerospace and cybersecurity industries, needed to be high-tech and changeable so it could serve industry partners, it needed to be installed in time for classes to begin and make use of it, and it needed to work inside a 4,000 sq. ft. rented office space off the school’s campus.

Centennial’s was a tall order; DIRTT and Great Canadian were up for the challenge.

“Centennial optimized the DIRTT DNA,” says Lynn Horricks, director of business development at DIRTT Environmental Solutions. “Our ability is to provide quick installations for floor, technology, data, electrical, walls, everything, all on a technology platform.” She says since the Innovation Hub was to be built on leased property, the college also wanted the flexibility to move and adapt the interior solutions to different spaces over time.

Ingrid Schoning, regional team leader and sales representative at DIRTT Environmental Solutions, said she was impressed at the time Great Canadian Construction took to really understand their products. “They didn’t take it for granted, they came into the showroom and brought all their trades, not just the administrators,” she says. “They took time to understand it before they had any material in the field.”

Trevor Fields, project co-ordinator at Great Canadian Construction Ltd., says working with DIRTT for the first time on this project was a great learning experience. “Centennial was my first solo project that I oversaw, and I was very well supported,” he says. He says Great Canadian encourages employees to further their education and certifications to move forward in their careers. Working with DIRTT offered a smooth transition.

Fields says he was impressed at how quickly DIRTT’s systems made everything come together. “We worked really closely with them to create a system that was really customized,” he says. “The entire electrical system is run underground, it’s a tile system. The cables are run through the floor. It’s easier to customize and recircuit anything.”

Horricks says this changeability will allow the space to come back to relevance quickly as technology advances over time. “They will be able to reutilize, relocate, adapt and change their built environment,” Horricks says. The finished product is both beautiful and carefully customized for the needs of the client.

“Students love it,” says Horricks. She says she loved seeing their reaction at the grand opening of the space. “It’s like a spaceship, it’s innovative, designed really well by the architect,” she says.

Because this project is so unique, tight collaboration was needed between all the businesses involved. Horricks says all parties involved worked exceptionally well together.

“Great Canadian was so open to a different way of doing things,” she says. “It went in very quickly, was co-ordinated very well.” She says Centennial’s vision was very forward thinking, and was upheld by everybody on the project.

Great Canadian Construction has put its mark on projects across the GTA, including revamping an office space into a 10,000 square foot call centre for Mintz Global Screening, and the construction of the steel structure for Toronto brewery Belgian Moon at Stakt Market.

Great Canadian has also teamed up with Olympia Steel. The two companies working together means Olympia can provide its clients a powerhouse turnkey solution.

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