Canadians are very vocal about having the best hockey teams (seriously!), the greatest lakes and the tastiest poutine, although the jury is still out on exactly where in Canada the tastiest poutine originated.
And yet Canadians are a little shy when it comes to boasting about their construction achievements. With an almost dismissive air, Canadian construction professionals play down their feats. Here are some of the biggest, best, and wackiest construction projects from across our great nation.
Built in 1975, One Canada Place is currently Canada’s tallest building. Located at the northwest corner of King and Bay streets in downtown Toronto, it stands at 298 metres. When it first opened, it was the tallest building outside of Chicago and New York. The 44-year-old building has seen many upgrades and facelifts, but it still remains Canada’s tallest building. It won’t change until 2022, the scheduled completion of when The One by developer Sam Mizrahi. Powered by Procore project management software, once completed, the building will stand at 309-metres tall.
At this height, The One is considered a supertall skyscraper by architectural standards and will be the first such building in Canada.
At this height, The One is considered a supertall skyscraper by architectural standards and will be the first such building in Canada. While it will take the honour of Canada’s tallest building in 2022, The One is going to be much more than that, It will feature unparalleled connectivity, including a subway hub and underground access [via the subway] to Billy Bishop airport. Akin to an iceberg, there will be so much more to The One below the surface, for instance, two floors of below street-level retail space.
Considering that One Canada Place has retained the title for almost half a century, will we have to wait until 2069 for a new contender?
Largest (by surface area)
Covering almost half a million square metres*, West Edmonton Mall once laid claim to the title of World’s Largest Mall and still holds the title of Large Mall in North America. This colossal structure has over 350,000 m2 of leasable meterage, not including Galaxyland, the indoor amusement park that covers an additional 70,000 m2.
West Edmonton Mall has been eclipsed by a long list of Asian malls, most prominent of which is the Iran Mall, with almost 1.5 million square meters of leasable meterage. However, the Canadian mall is still the size of a small city.
There’s more to the mall than just its vast area. The mall is an accredited zoo, includes two hotels and features nine world-class attractions, such as Galaxyland.
Now, Edmonton’s population has almost doubled, and the province’s number-one tourist attraction receives over 30 million visitations annually.
The mall was opened in 1981. At the time, the fledgling city of Edmonton only had 500,000 people. Now, Edmonton’s population has almost doubled, and the province’s number-one tourist attraction receives over 30 million visitations annually.
* Surface area includes parking.
At a cost of almost $13 billion, the Darlington nuclear refurbishment is Canada’s most expensive construction project. Started in 2016 with an expected completion date of 2026, it will also be one of the country’s longest-running projects. Run by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), the multi-phased refurbishment will employ 14,200 skilled construction professionals from across the country.
Since the early 1990s, the nuclear power station has provided around 20 per cent of the province’s electrical needs. With such a dependence on this clean energy, the federal government approved the renovation, which will see clean energy production at the facility until 2055.
When it comes to the weirdest construction projects in Canada, it’s difficult to narrow down the list. For all the introvertedness that Canadians portray, they have a sense of humour.
The top three wackiest projects certainly include Edouard Arsenault’s Bottle Houses in Wellington, PEI. Inspired by a postcard from his daughter, Arsenault built three buildings using 25,000 bottles cemented together.
Another unusual project was more of a maritime project that a civil engineering project. The McBarge was a McDonald’s restaurant built on a 57-metre barge for Expo ’86 in Vancouver, British Columbia. After the Expo, the barge was moored in Burrard Inlet from 1991 and has become a go-to location for thrill-seekers.
Using materials from every province across Canada, the platform weighs 130 tons and features all the provincial and territorial flags of Canada.
However, first-place goes to St. Paul, Alberta. Opened in June 1967, the city of St. Paul built a landing pad for UFOs. Using materials from every province across Canada, the platform weighs 130 tons and features all the provincial and territorial flags of Canada.
Built as part of the Canadian centennial celebration, the flat concrete structure contains a time capsule to be opened on the 100-year anniversary in 2067.
A free hot-line, 1-888-See-UFOS is still available for people to report sightings. Officially, there have been no confirmed reports of UFOs, but the people of St. Paul’s could surely tell you a tale or two.
Although we wouldn’t usually define buildings as smart, the emergence of building intelligence systems is pushing the boundaries of smart technology. Defined as a building that uses shared information to improve operations, the spectrum is huge. From little more than a garden shed to fully integrated buildings that share real-time data to improve internal and external conditions, building intelligence is pushing the boundaries of construction, in some ways, more-than height, surface area or dollar value.
With only 152 years under its belt, Canada can already boast many accolades. The widest bridge, the largest wooden structure, the longest pipeline in North America… The list goes on!