Precise execution brings long-term care in rapid time
To alleviate the pressures of COVID-19 on the Province of Ontario’s long-term care sector, Infrastructure Ontario and Lakeridge Health partnered with PCL Toronto to build a new long-term care home. But they faced a challenge: how to build the six-storey building in only 13 months during a global pandemic?
The Ontario Government and Infrastructure Ontario launched the Accelerated Build Pilot Program, which leverages hospital-owned land and accelerated construction techniques to get shovels in the ground quickly. This approach helps build urgently needed long-term care homes in the large urban areas where scarce and costly land is a significant challenge for prospective developers. Leveraging available hospital land saved significant time in the process. Within weeks of announcing the new model, Infrastructure Ontario chose Lakeridge Health’s Ajax Pickering Hospital as the site for the long-term care home and issued the Request for Qualifications and Standing Offer (RFQSO) in July 2020.
PCL established a preconstruction plan early in the RFQSO phase to hit the ground running. While PCL has a long history of experience in delivering projects under aggressive timelines, this project presented a unique set of challenges that required a near-perfect strategy. A knowledgeable design team is crucial for carrying out a successful accelerated construction program. Bringing in long-term care design experts, G Architects, in joint venture with Parkin Architects, played a large role in mitigating potential design risks and setting up the construction team for success. To ensure important construction milestones would be met, the project team developed a feasible strategy, received stakeholder and community buy-in, and advanced the building design before construction even began.
Lakeridge Gardens, Lakeridge Health’s new long-term care home, is a 25,360 square metre (273,000 square feet) six-storey, 320-bed state-of-the-art care facility located in Ajax, Ontario, serving the entire Durham Region. Designed with the health and wellness of residents at the forefront, the home is equipped with a sustainable green roof, courtyards, and energy efficient systems.
Some of the features include:
• Infection prevention and control measures, a modern design, and care planning that prioritizes residents’ quality of life.
• Private and semi-private rooms, the latter with separate bedrooms and a shared bathroom.
• Specially designed rooms to support bariatric resident needs.
• A specialized behavioural unit with access to a secure rooftop terrace.
• A nine-station dialysis unit which also allows access for those in the community.
• A landscaped courtyard, four balconies per floor, a hair salon, great room, gift shop, and multiple gathering lounges.
Integrating lean construction principles and technology into the overall strategy allowed for a speedy project delivery without compromising the quality of the build. We broke ground in January 2021. While design development often continues simultaneously with construction, adopting a modular kit-of-parts approach allowed the team to minimize up-front design work and keep the schedule on track. After identifying which key building features would be prefabricated, each module was broken into tangible components that a specialized trade partner would manufacture and ship to the site for installation.
Precast concrete was chosen as the main structural material as it is a resilient and fast-erecting system and manufactured off-site thus allowing site work to continue without interference. Using precast concrete elements, such as hollowcore floors, solid balcony pieces, shear walls, stairs and elevator towers, allowed for continuous installation by two cranes and two crews which cut the erection schedule by half.
By early spring, construction began on the vertical structure with the erection of the precast concrete load-bearing wall panels, washroom pods and mechanical distribution systems. Each key element was manufactured, shipped and installed on-site as the team reached the respective milestone. Construction of the building’s structure was moving at an incredible pace with the workforce alternating over two shifts per day. By August 2021, the structure of the long-term care home was complete, topping off just eight months into construction.
In October 2021, attention shifted to the interior work, roof, and exterior cladding. In November, an entire resident floor was mocked up, complete with a fully furnished resident room and working washroom to meet the requirements of the clinical team. With final interior work taking shape, the long-term care home was only weeks away from achieving substantial performance. From precast concrete to washroom pods, each element was installed into the building like a fitted glove, avoiding delays in the schedule. Lakeridge Health’s new long-term care home achieved substantial performance on March 2, 2022, as Ontario’s first Accelerated Build Project.
The decision to build the Lakeridge LTC complex at the Lakeridge Hospital site raised the question of adequate space for parking for both buildings. The solution arrived at was to build an accelerated precast concrete four-storey parking structure of over 550 parking spots. Manufacturing the structure offsite allowed critical and time-sensitive site work to be completed without interruption. As the site became ready, the installation phase of the precast superstructure began. The installation from January to April 2022 included field-applied concrete toppings, caulkings and sealants.