September 18, 2007
EllisDon gives Trinidadian oncology centre diverse appeal
Canadian, Trinidadian teams bring strength to the project
Construction giant EllisDon is combining North American building expertise and locally available resources on a national oncology centre in Trinidad.
“The Ministry of Health asked that the project be built basically to Canadian standards with some modifications for local conditions,” says Bruce Blair, EllisDon’s Orlando-based area vice-president for the southeastern United States and the Caribbean.
Designed by Toronto’s Farrow Partnership Architects, the 71,000-square-foot, three-storey centre will host a variety of cancer treatment services. Included are four radiation bunkers.
Contracts have been awarded to local firms for early works construction, concrete formwork and reinforcing and structural steel supply and erection. Items such as fencing have been sourced locally as well.
“It looks as if we are going to end up using mostly local contractors, although international contractors are bidding on some remaining packages,” said Blair, whose firm is acting as construction manager.
Foundations currently are being put in place by a Trinidadian firm, Junior Sammy Contractors Ltd.
Blair, a 29-year veteran of EllisDon, said his team is sharing its knowledge of cancer centre construction with local contractors.
“They (local trades) haven’t had an opportunity to gain that kind of experience,” he said.
EllisDon, which has a four-person supervisory crew on site, is providing input on construction of the high-density-concrete radiation bunkers.
“Our Toronto research and development group and quality assurance group worked on the (concrete) mix designs,” Blair said. “We imported high-density aggregates and specialized admixtures and provided those to the local ready mix company.”
In some instances, EllisDon has encouraged Canadian or international contractors to partner with local firms on bids.
Contracts for mechanical works and curtainwall supply and installation potentially could be awarded to such ventures.
“The challenge is to combine resources that are available locally with off-island resources,” Blair said. “Typically, development comes and goes on the islands. They can’t develop and sustain a sophisticated construction capability.”
EllisDon also is making use of the Web-based EdgeBuilder project management system on the project.
“That tool has been invaluable in enabling our local team to put processes in place immediately and to access resources available in Canada and the United States to help with management of the project.”
Intended to function as a regional health resource for the Caribbean, the oncology centre is scheduled for completion in late 2009. The original construction budget was $25 million.
“There have been some budget enhancements,” Blair said. “The Trinidad construction market is very busy at the moment. Pricing has been a bit higher than anticipated.”
He said final budget approval is pending from the Trinidad cabinet.
The project team includes Toronto-based project managers Comprehensive Care International, structural engineers Halsall Associates Ltd., mechanical-electrical engineers MMM Group and landscape architects Quinn Design Associates Inc. Local architects and engineers have been retained as well.
Blair, whose company has been working in the Caribbean for some 20 years, believes the oncology centre is destined to be “a very impressive building” and an icon at the campus of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences complex.
“Everybody on the team is really enthused about being part of such an important project. There are limited cancer treatment facilities on the island. This project is just going to make a huge difference to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”
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