All about the building.
Architect Wendy Brawley of Barry J. Hobin & Associates Architects tells Renfrew County council about the architectural aspects of the county’s new social services building in Arnprior.
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
Little more than an hour after the sod-turning ceremony for the new social services building in Arnprior, Wendy Brawley was providing county council with an architectural overview of the facility.
The architect with Barry J. Hobin & Associates Architects Inc. spoke at the Sept. 26 county council meeting in Arnprior’s nearby Nick Smith Centre.
The building is expected to be operational some time between January and May of 2013.
At 5,600 square feet, the new facility will be significantly bigger than the current building on 100 Madawaska Street, Arnprior where the county’s Child Care, Ontario Works and Renfrew County Housing Corporation’s Arnprior offices occupy 3,400 square feet.
But the big saving will be in rent and overall costs for the County of Renfrew.
At the social services building on Madawaska Street, the county is paying $76,500 in rent per year.
At 80 McGonigal, the child care, social housing and Ontario Works components of the building will pay more nominal rent over the next several years to pay off the county’s 15- to 20-year debenture.
The $390,000 purchase of the McGonigal Street property, $50,000 for incidentals, and $1.16 million retrofit job by M. Sullivan & Son (and sub-contractors), will come with a strong environmental sticker.
Accessibility standards are well beyond national codes, while the building will be 36 per cent more efficient than model national energy codes, said Brawley.
In the face of new building codes in the province, the building has also undergone “seismic upgrades,” said Brawley. That was done, in part, by demolishing two large walls, one at the front and one to the side, before rebuilding them with improved reinforcement and insulation at 80 McGonigal St.
“Now buildings in Ontario are the most energy-efficient in North America,” said Brawley. “So by removing these walls and building up from the existing foundation, we’re able to provide the additional insulation and R values. So, from an operational cost it will be much less for heating and utility costs.
“The building, when we started working with it, was almost an empty palate,” said Brawley. “It was two large spaces, so it was quite easy to see that space being fit up with smaller offices, meeting rooms, interview rooms.
“Having worked on Renfrew County Place (the former Canadian Tire building in Renfrew) … we knew from that experience opportunities we wanted to replicate, and perhaps some items we wanted to change,” she said of the substantial Renfrew County building on O’Brien Road that houses various county services, including the paramedics’ Renfrew base.
Upon entering the Arnprior building, clients will basically move to the left for Ontario Works and to the right for housing and child-care business.
Compared to the current building on Madawaska Street, Brawley said this division promotes improved confidentiality for clients. There will also be the potential between the two sides of the building for four interview rooms accessible by staff from their own offices. And window placements are higher, to facilitate privacy.
There will also be a board room that could be used for larger County of Renfrew committee meetings.
Construction will also evolve after at least three tenders are received for the retrofit’s various components, including drywall, roofing and mechanical, said Brawley.
Asked what he likes best about the new social services building, Renfrew County social services director Dave Anderson replied, “Location, location, location.”
After being vacant for about a year, the former Valley Catering building was purchased by the county with the knowledge the facility was near downtown and close to such facilities as the ambulance station, town hall, and a $2.2-million senior housing project that’s under construction.
“Social services has a huge presence in Arnprior, and Arnprior is a growing community,” said Anderson.
Recently-completed projects by Ottawa-based Barry J. Hobin & Associates include Ottawa’s James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre, Centrepointe Studio Theatre and the new Ottawa Humane Society building.
Hobin & Associates’ projects underway include St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa long-term care facility, Springcress properties of the Westboro United Church, and the Salvation Army’s Bethany Hope Centre.