Halifax residents can look forward to living green thanks to the addition of W Suites to the historic downtown core. Offering an attractive combination of open-concept living, on-site urban commercial space and a slew of environmentally-driven features, W Suites is the ultimate all-in-one package that Dexel Developments believes will appeal to its growing demographic of green minded urbanites.
Standing seven storeys high and featuring 87 stylish living spaces, showcase the versatility, strength and all-round beneficial qualities of precast concrete. The project’s precast fabricator, Strescon Limited, installed 227 six-inch thick pieces of architectural precast concrete panels. An additional 14 six-inch thick panels were installed in the roof adding to its decorative curb appeal.
Thanks in part to the speedy production of the precast panels, Strescon was able to install the precast pieces in under ten days, thereby giving others on the project the overall boost needed to meet the owner’s August 2007 grand opening deadline. Recalls Michael Napier, of Michael Napier Architecture, “The building was able to be enclosed much faster than conventional construction methods allowing the interior finishing to proceed during our colder seasons allowing for a late summer occupancy.” On top of speeding the construction team towards their fall deadline, among which also included Campbell Comeau Engineering Limited, the move to use precast concrete as the primary material provided Dexel with the ideal material to match their ‘green’ designs. Strescon’s use of concrete as a cladding system endowed the building with a material that is part of a superior building envelope.
Geothermal heating is one of the major environmental touches to the overall W Suites construction that works by pulling its domestic water up from an underground piping system anchored some 500 feet underground. At this level, heat pumps are said to be nearly four times more efficient than regular heating systems, a warming statistic to be sure and one that was made possible by the site itself.
“Halifax is essentially located on a big rock, so it’s ideal for geothermal heating,” notes John Fraser, Plant Manager with the Halifax Strescon Facility. Speaking to precast concrete’s part in keeping W Suites tenants cozy, he adds that, “The concrete itself acts as a heat sink, so its thermal mass can store some of the heat generated during the daytime and holds it during the night. This makes it ideal for energy conservation come winter.”
Green choices like this run throughout the W Suites. From the installation of low-E argon glass to the HVAC system and on-site recycling facilities, it’s apparent that the ‘green’ designation is much more than a marketing buzz-word. W Suites also sports high efficiency fully modulating boilers, air tight insulated exterior walls, ultra-sonic lighting in common areas, a central ventilation system with heat recovery units and more.
In fact, much consideration has been made on all levels of the design and construction to make W Suites as complementary to its surroundings as possible. Doing so, says Fraser, has won it a lot of positive attention from potential buyers. “A project like this is very important and a lot of people see that. I think many people are attracted to a green building of this kind and want to live in a modern building they believe has been built to be sustainable and have as little impact on its environment as possible.”
There are, of course, other reasons why many are happy to call W Suites home. Namely: the design. In an effort to appeal to the existing style and flavour of the historic downtown area, the precast concrete panels that were applied to closely resemble traditional sandstone finish.
“The finishes on the precast panels were chosen to complement the neighbouring buildings,” says Napier, describing his team’s work on the condo’s stunning exterior presentation. “The concrete detailing of the panels was architecturally subdued with only a contrasting integral sill highlighting the window openings.
Also, through integrating several primary materials like masonry brick, glass and precast, we created a cohesive whole that demanded careful detailing and color coordination.” The precast concrete panels provided Napier and company the means by which to craft a condominium look that doesn’t so much stand out as it does uniquely play off the area around it. Inside and out, W Suites is an enviable place to call home. And while residents are surely singing its praises, so too are the folks who helped make the ambitious project a reality. “A project like this is certainly rewarding for everyone,” says Fraser. “For us, the reward comes in knowing that we’ve done something to contribute positively to the environment.”
For more on W Suites and all of its green features, visit www.wsuites.ca.
Owner: Dexel Developments
Architect: Michael Napier Architecture
Engineer: Campbell Comeau Engineering Limited
Precast Concrete: Strescon Limited