The City of Vancouver runs its own advanced asphalt manufacturing plant that makes new asphalt as well as recycling old asphalt from the city’s roads. The Materials Testing Facility provides lab spaces and offices for a small group of engineers who develop customized asphalt mixes for a range of applications.
When the time came to build a new testing facility, the city initially planned to erect a pre-engineered structure. Architect Peter Busby of Busby + Associates proposed an alternative: creating a new building out of old materials. Not only did reuse offer environmental benefits, it seemed appropriate for a client committed to reuse and recycling in their own work. An integrated project team of the client’s project manager, architect, contractor, and structural and MEP (mechanical electrical and plumbing) consultants treated the project as an opportunity to experiment with material reuse and provide the city with an inspirational model of green building.
The project ultimately included a wide diversity of reused finishes, structural members and MEP equipment. There was initially some discomfort among the lab’s employees about the decision to build the new facility out of reclaimed materials. But the final product convinced the staff that they were not going to work in a “garbage building,” as project manager David Desrochers put it, but in a “beautiful building built of garbage.”
Reclaimed Materials (by application): HVAC, Wood/Lumber, Plumbing, Glass, Light Fixtures
Additional Design for Reuse Highlights
— The project site had several wood warehouses slated for removal. Busby and structural engineer Paul Fast of Fast + Epp visited the site to identify potential materials. Together, they selected timber trusses, glulam beams and roof decking.
— Most of the project team came on board during the pre-design phase. Such early involvement allowed reused materials and equipment to shape the design. For example, Fast + Epp worked with Busby + Associates to modify heavy timber trusses from the original building to create a span adequate for the new building. Highest quality individual pieces from all original trusses were swapped in as needed to create the two trusses used.
— Mechanical engineer Kevin Hyde of Keen Engineering obtained surplus heaters, air conditioners and plumbing systems from other job sites in the city. He sourced lighting fixtures and piping from more traditional salvage sources.
— The team based its design on materials they saw in local salvage yards. Uncertain of the availability of the reclaimed materials, contractors initially submitted high bids based on using new materials. In response, the client purchased most of the reclaimed materials and furnished them to the contractors for installation.
— The high initial bids also led the team to switch from a fixed tender to a multiple prime contract structure with a construction manager. The construction manager, Ken King & Associates, sent components out to bid only when the materials were identified and if necessary, refurbished.
— The client wanted a double-glazed curtain wall with a warranty. The architects wanted to accommodate this request and still incorporate reclaimed wood and glass. They found a contractor who agreed to fabricate double-glazed glass pieces out of used, single-glazed windows and provide a warranty.
— A third-party examiner calculated that over 80 percent of the materials in the facility are reclaimed.
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Date of Completion: 1999
Architect: Busby + Associates (now Busby Perkins+Will)
Client: City of Vancouver
Contractor Manager: Ken King & Associates
Structural Engineer: Fast + Epp
MEP Engineer: Keen Engineering (now Integral Group)
Design for Deconstruction, Case Study