BY BILL PHILLIPS
Keeping the $35 million Four Seasons Pool replacement project on time and on budget falls on the shoulders of Mark Hentze and Dominic Ries.
Hentze is the vice-president of HDR Architecture Associates, the company tasked with designing facility. Ries is the director of technical solutions for Chandos Construction, the company tasked with building the facility.
“That’s our job,” said Hentze. “Our job is to stay on budget. We’re also conscious of the fact that a couple of projects in the Lower Mainland and the Island were put on hold because budgets ballooned out of control.”
City residents, in a referendum, approved borrowing up to $35 million for the new pool. The city is also going after up to $10 million in federal and provincial grant money to help with the cost. The location of the new pool will be the site of the former Days Inn Hotel, which will be demolished this summer. The Days Inn was purchased for $4.5 million and subsequent demolition costs will push the actual cost for the new pool closer to $42 million.
Several recent city projects have had to be adjusted as costs for materials and labour escalate.
“The biggest challenge of budgets on these projects is that in the life of a project, the budget is set at a point in time,” said Hentze. “And then by the time the project is able to be delivered, escalation has occurred, inflation has occurred. Our job is to deliver the project on the budget that council and the voters, most importantly, approved in the referendum.”
HDR has already been meeting with Four Seasons user groups and aquatics staff in order to understand usage of the facility and priorities for the new facility. This past week, HDR and Chandos have also been leading an intensive design process together with city staff to integrate this feedback.
“We thought this was a really interesting community in which to work,” Hentze said. “This pool is part of the downtown revitalization, it’s a really important community asset. That’s the kind of project we like to work on.”
The information collected through the consultation process will be invaluable in developing the overall design.
“We’re putting together the pieces that’s going to help us design the building,” he said. “We’re just in the very earliest days of considering how the site is going to work, what side of the site are we going to enter from, how big the building is going to be, and what are the components that are in it.”
The group is also getting a feel for what kind of local materials are available and can be incorporated into the design and structure.
“The most important way this project will end up being successful is not that it is just a swimming pool, but this is a swimming pool where people will say that’s the pool in Prince George,” he said. “What that means just yet, we don’t know but we do know wood will factor into it.”
HDR has just about to start the schematic design phase, from there it goes to design development, which includes design drawings, and then construction, which will likely start get underway in 2020.
For Chandos Construction, being involved this early in the process is a real benefit.
“Collaboration so early on with the design team is something that every construction manager wants,” said Ries. “You want to have that ability of having that discussion of what makes the best sense. We are in charge of the budget, we are in charge of the schedule.”
Chandos Construction is a 100 per cent employee-owned national general contractor that is leading change in the Canadian construction industry. The company has built dozens of aquatic and recreation facilities across the country including the Bonnie Doon Pool and the Kinsmen Aquatic Centre in Edmonton, the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre and the Grand Cache Multicentre in Grand Cache, Alberta.
HDR Architecture Associates is an international architecture firm with more than 10,000 employees world-wide. HDR recently designed sport and recreation facilities in Langley, North Vancouver, and Red Deer. HDR’s Vancouver Studio leads the firm’s international growth in sport and recreation design.
“Our pool (building) goes back to the Hollyburn Country Club in the early 2000s in North Vancouver,” he said. “We’ve got some pools across the country … Newfoundland, Nebraska, and a little bit of stuff in Germany.”
The Four Seasons will remain open until the new pool is ready for use.