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October 6, 2010

Kitchener, Ontario parking garage adds ramps, flexibility

The headquarters of the Kitchener Public Library are being renovated and expanded while a new three-level underground 412-space parking garage is being built.

The concrete parking garage will be a shared structure designed to serve library patrons as well as library neighbours, including Centre in the Square, K-W Art Gallery, the Region of Waterloo, the Registry Theatre and the planned consolidated courthouse, which is currently under construction.

The library renovation will include upgrades to electrical, mechanical and HVAC systems, along with the construction of a new 25,000-square-foot addition to the rear of the building.

The original budget for the parking building project weighed in at $18.5 million, but the estimated costs have escalated to about $24 million during the design stage. The newest design for the garage features two access ramps instead of one, expanded stairwells and elevators to accommodate peak traffic and pedestrian activity.

“The design of the underground garage is very linear in nature,” says John McBride Director of Transportation Planning with the City of Kitchener.

“It’s a couple of hundred feet long, so to have everyone entering and exiting at one point of access was a difficult proposition. With two exits, we can take advantage of two signalized intersections to share the traffic load.”

There’s another motive for the double ramps. The garage has been designed for possible further linear underground expansion, allowing for up to 1,000 parking spaces. If expansion occurs, one access ramp can be closed during construction.

“We also have significant infrastructure relocation costs due to the fact that the garage now spans Ahrens Street, something which wasn’t in the original plan, and that also means work is required on storm and sanitary sewers,” says McBride.

The garage expansion will require additional construction work where it will impinge on the underground portion of the library.

Extensive shoring work will also be required to protect the adjacent historic jail building, which was built on a rubble foundation.

The project has also been hit with an increase in concrete costs and the introduction of the Ontario HST.

“We’re aiming for LEED Gold for the overall project, including the library,” says McBride. “Most of the LEED points will be achieved with improvements to the library. For the garage we’re primarily doing things to reduce the building’s lighting requirements, such as painting the walls and ceilings white.”

The construction contract was awarded to Maystar General Contractors Inc. of Concord, Ont.

The consulting contract for the Library Renovation and Expansion/Underground Parking Garage was awarded to Levitt Goodman Architects Ltd. in association with The Walter Fedy Partnership and Phillip H. Carter Architect. The Walter Fedy Partnership will be responsible for the design of the parking structure and will serve as the garage’s structural, mechanical, electrical and LEED consultant.

Construction of the first phase of the garage is slated for fall of 2011, when the facility opens for partial service.

The second phase of the garage is scheduled for completion in late 2012 and the library expansion will be completed by early 2013.

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