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Three Interesting Elements of Phase One of the St. Andrew’s College Science Wing Rebuild Project

Phase One of the McLaughlin Hall project is well underway at St. Andrew’s College–the largest independent school for boys in Canada. Our project team has been working steadily to prepare for the renovations, which includes the interior demolition of three floors within the existing building.

Demolition is underway on the main floor of SAC's science wing.

Acting as construction manager, we are leading building activities for the project, which will ultimately broaden and improve the school’s physical space for science and technology education.

Here are three interesting elements related to the current scope of work on the project:

1) Demolition of the Donald Davis Theatre

On any given job, gutting a space before you start building rarely takes the spotlight, but in this case, it should. After all, demolition features prominently in the scope of work for this phase of the project, and it’s taking place while the school is in full operation. Also, live services that criss-cross the facility must be maintained throughout construction.

Take the former space occupied by the Donald Davis Theatre. It featured a substantial, tiered seating area that was built using reinforced concrete, which had to be completely removed.

Here’s how the seating area looked before work began:

Here’s how it looked during demolition:

And here’s how it looks now:

The concrete used to build the tiered seating supported the wall main, so the beams you can see in the photo above have been installed to provide temporary shoring until new structural steel is installed on our way to transforming the space into this…

A makerspace and large materials room that will feature a second-story mezzanine.

Demolishing the former laboratories on the second and third floors was no small feat either; with interior walls and substantial lab benching carefully removed in accordance with Dalton’s environmental standards. So, the demolition team is systematically deconstructing the interior and sorting waste into piles for ease of recycling.

Then, the material gets placed on this conveyor belt and offloaded into a waste bin through a temporary opening, which was created by removing window.

The bin is affixed to a forklift, which transports the waste into the appropriate larger bin located on ground level.

2) Temporary Staircase

Maintaining ongoing school operations during construction is a key requirement for this project. Throughout the day, students, faculty and staff need to move quickly through hallways, staircases and outdoor walkways in between classes and events. Located between Rogers Hall and Bedard Athletic Centre, McLaughlin Hall shares two staircases that require regular access. But construction activities could not impede pedestrian traffic in the staircases.

As part of the extensive pre-construction planning undertaken by Dalton, it was agreed that a temporary, exterior staircase would be provided, specifically for building activities.

The construction of the staircase involved the temporary removal of windows and masonry on the first and second floors to create two, short-term entrances for project team members. The staircase also gives workers a quick, direct route to the rooftop when needed.

Here’s a view from the staircase overlooking the school’s amphitheatre, which has become a staging area for construction materials.

(Interesting side note: The building to the left is SAC’s Centre for Leadership, Innovation & Performance, which Dalton delivered in 2015.)

3) New Elevator

The scope of work involves the construction of a new elevator on the south side of the science wing. Large sections of the building’s wall had to be carefully removed before work began.

Excavating 10 feet of soil directly beside the existing foundation of the building was necessary to accommodate a new elevator pit. Because digging the pit required the removal of a substantial volume of soil, underpinning the existing building foundation was required to maintain strength in the foundation and to prevent any possibility of movement or cracking.

The elevator shaft is now being built under the cover of a massive tarp that shelters the area from the elements while containing warm air generated by a portable heater.

Keeping the weather out and heat inside mitigates damage to building materials caused by the freeze/thaw cycle that occurs during fall and winter months and allows work to continue during winter. (The heater and its yellow vents are visible in the bottom of the photo above.)

Peering into the elevator construction area one day in late November, you would have found this sample section of masonry work that was created for approval.

Employing this approval process helps bridge gaps between the intended design and the final outcome, which is always a great step toward saving time and money!


As you can now appreciate, this complex renovation and addition project requires considerable planning and communication between the entire project team. The value Dalton’s team offers lies in the leadership and trust-based collaboration helps keep all the members of the project team focused on the number one priority: SAC’s Definition of Success for the project.


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