New life for old spectator arenas

A number of Canadian cities are looking at replacing their older spectator arenas. Fort McMurray, Moncton, Thunder Bay and Sudbury are all considering building new facilities, and as often happens in this situation, the question has come up: What should they do with their older venues?

Thunder Bay and Moncton each engaged CEI and PricewaterhouseCoopers to help them deal with this question and, while the process is not fully complete, the results are both surprising and exciting.

When repurposing a spectator facility, one needs to acknowledge that the main value of the facility comes from the amount of floor space underneath its span. The flat-floor space may be the size of an ice surface—with the rest of the area taken up by seating—or it can be two to three times larger, if the seating is removed.

The Fort William Gardens in Thunder Bay was built in 1950, with around 5,000 seats. The Gardens is connected to the Fort William Curling Club, and the facilities share the same refrigeration system. The facility is not far from the city’s southern business district, but the value of the land does not justify demolishing the facility for redevelopment.

Through a community workshop and subsequent open house, CEI developed consensus around a few key objectives the public wanted to see in a repurposed facility:

  • Repurposing the Gardens to support community recreation and leisure needs
  • Removing permanent seating and providing flexible or removable seating
  • Reducing the extent to which the facility is subsidized by the City.

The workshop included an opportunity for participants to express their opinions about what they wanted to see.

Ft William Gardens-Statements

The final recommendation included removal of all fixed seating in the facility, and the addition of an elevated walking track and fitness station, and a highly robust sports flooring system that would accommodate street traffic for trade shows, farmer’s markets, and other assembly activity. First and foremost, however, was the need to dedicate the 40,000 sq ft of flat floor area to community recreation and leisure programs.

Ft William Gardens-Recommendations

The existing Moncton Coliseum Complex contains both the 6,500-seat Coliseum, and the 75,000 sq ft Agrena trade show facility. Developing their new Downtown Centre will move spectator-oriented events from the Coliseum, but not the trade show activity. Repurposing a vacated Coliseum is as much about reinforcing the business plan of the Agrena as it is about supporting community-oriented programming.

CEI based the repurposing of the Coliseum on a model developed for the Regina Exhibition Grounds, which sees a six-pad arena and large indoor soccer facility support major trade show activity on an opportunistic basis. In this model, the recreation components are primarily used for community programs and only occasionally for flat floor events and shows. Scheduling is critical but ultimately it is a win-win from both business and recreation programming perspectives.


The final recommendation for the Moncton Coliseum will be to remove all of the fixed seating and provide large-scale open recreational space at the event level (the original ice level), as well as smaller, open-area recreation spaces on the mezzanine level. Unlike the repurposing of the Fort William Gardens into a multi-purpose recreation facility, the Moncton project creates a city-wide recreation hub and supports the business plan for the Agrena, making it Atlantic Canada’s premier destination for large trade show events and activities.



CEI’s Mark Hentze in panel discussion at 2014 AIBC conference

Mark Hentze, CEI Architecture’s director of recreation, community and culture projects, was invited to participate in a panel discussion at the AIBC Annual Conference taking place in October, 2014, in Vancouver.

The topic of the discussion is “building community through architecture.” The panel will focus on community centres, pool and recreation facilities, and their impact on new and established communities and neighbourhoods. The talk will be moderated by Anne Mooi, director of parks and recreation for West Vancouver.



CEI’s Scott Chatterton chosen as Autodesk Expert Elite

CEI staff portraitsScott Chatterton, CEI’s BIM and quality control manager, has been named to the Autodesk Expert Elite program, recognizing his expertise and leadership with the technology over the past several years.

The Autodesk Expert Elite program was created to recognize users who have contributed a significant amount of time, knowledge, and assistance to the Autodesk customer support community. They look for people with a strong sense of leadership and an engaging style of collaboration. Scott is one of just 130 members, from 20 countries around the world.

As CEI’s BIM and quality control expert, Scott led the redevelopment of CEIQ, our quality control and project management procedures. He also contributes to many of our projects, helping coordinate the use of Revit among the entire design and construction team.

Congratulations Scott!



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CEIQ: Quality Control at CEI Architecture

CEI staff portraitsBy Scott Chatterton, BIM Manager

Over the past few months, CEI Architecture has been working on defining and implementing a comprehensive new quality control system, which we’re calling CEIQ: Quality Control and Project Management Procedures.

The precursor to CEIQ was a document and system outlining the firm’s Flow of Operations. It was solid, but changes in the industry and in our firm meant that an update was needed. The existing system and documentation didn’t go into a lot of detail regarding our BIM process, and several recent wins on major P3 projects—including the recent announcement that our team, Affinity Partnerships, is the preferred proponent for the BC Children’s and BC Women’s Hospital Acute Care Centre—meant that our quality control procedures have expanded.

As the BIM manager, I already had a number of existing documents and processes that I put in place, but I still found it difficult to share certain information and make everyone aware of its existence and apply it to their projects. We have some great content related to quality control, but it’s no good if people are not aware of it and aren’t putting into practice.

Getting input

Part of the process in the creation of the CEIQ Quality Control system included interviewing our staff, asking pertinent questions about existing processes and getting their thoughts on how we can improve our quality control and project management. We got great feedback!

There were a few themes that came up in most interviews, one of which was a desire to have a clear, comprehensive and fully approved project roadmap. People want guidance on the “how,” “where” and “what do I do next” on a project. Even though we already had these in the existing Flow of Operations, as time progressed our systems needed updating and we needed to re-instill a sense of accountability.

A living system

We consider CEIQ a living system, a set of guidelines, processes and beliefs that will evolve as the company and industry does. We expect it to be updated during the initial roll-out period, and to adapt to changes over time. Our goal with CEIQ is to improve efficiencies and create consistency in every aspect of our service and deliverables. The ultimate goal is to ensure that efficient systems are in place to free up the creative capacity of our talented designers, so they can focus on what they do best: creating spaces that work well for our clients and communities.

Better BIM management

CEIQ includes a section on BIM management, which we hope will give people working on a project clear guidance on their roles on projects that use Revit. One of the biggest challenges in implementing this type of structure in any business is getting buy-in—not only from the staff but from senior levels of an organization. Fortunately the leadership at CEI Architecture has been the driving force behind the initiative, which makes the adoption process much easier throughout the organization.

After we roll out CEIQ, I will periodically blog about sections of the process and explain the benefits of developing your own project management procedures.



Another TOMMIE Award winner for CEI!


CEI’s design of the Black Hills Wine Experience Centre, which was previously named a finalist for a 2013 Tommie Award in the Commercial/Retail category, has brought home the Gold this past week!

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association of the Central Okanagan honoured the Nick Bevanada-designed facility along with recipients in 41 other categories, including Home of the Year, the Fortis BC Award for Building Energy Efficiency, and Best Mixed-Use facility.

The Wine Experience Centre joins CEI’s previous TOMMIE Gold winning Elenko Residence project.

Congratulations to all the award winners!

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CEI’s BIM guru to speak at CCO Workshop

CEI’s Scott Chatteron will be presenting at the 14th Annual Consultant, Contractor and Owner Workshop, hosted by the Southern Interior Construction Association on February 6. The annual Kelowna event is an opportunity for individuals in the construction and procurement process to network, exchange ideas, and hear industry updates and best practices.

Scott will be speaking on utilizing new technologies, such as Building Information Models and “the Cloud,” for all phases of the construction process.

Registration for the event remains open at, and all participants are encouraged to attend Scott’s afternoon session, “Construction Tech: BIM, Smart Apps.”

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New William Griffin Recreation Centre presented to community

WG internet

A Public Information Meeting was held in the District of North Vancouver on January 22 to present and gather plans for the new William Griffin Community Recreation Centre to the community and gather feedback on the design.

The meeting was well attended, with 87 people present to hear what CEI Architecture’s Mark Hentze, Sid Johnson, and representatives from the District of North Vancouver and North Vancouver Recreation Commission (NVRC) had to share about the project.

Of particular interest to the community were the plans to rehabilitate the riparian zone to the west of the building, along Mosquito Creek. The building will also be targeting LEED Gold certification with a number of sustainability features.

The building, targeting LEED Gold, will include NVRC Administration offices; aquatics space including a 25 metre pool, leisure pool, whirlpool, sauna, steam room, and change rooms; program areas for seniors, youth, and preschool; community kitchen; multi-purpose rooms; rental meeting space; arts and crafts areas; fitness areas including an activity studio, full-sized gymnasium, weight room, stretching room, and fitness studio; and squash courts.

The existing facility closed on December 31, 2013 and demolition is planned to begin in March. Construction will start this summer, with a tentative opening targeted for early in 2016.



CEI team members to speak on Transformational Learning Environments

“Form follows function. It seems obvious but it is often fogotten: Teaching and learning should shape the building, not vice versa.”

-The Third Teacher, 2010

On February 5th, North Shore residents are invited to attend  the Mulgrave Speaker Series on Transformational Learning Environments. CEI Partners Rod Windjack and John Scott, Associate Mark Koropecky, and Brad Ovenell-Carter, Director of Educational Technologies at Mulgrave School, will discuss the latest research influencing innovation in architecture and design in K-12 educational facilities. The session will highlight how interior spaces and features of the new Senior School Addition will impact learning for Mulgrave students.

The session takes place at Mulgrave School from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and interested guests may RSVP for the event here.



Affinity Partnerships named Preferred Proponents for new Acute Care Centre at BC Children’s and BC Women’s Hospital!

CEI is thrilled to be on the Affinity Partnerships team, who was recently named the Preferred Proponent for the new Acute Care Centre at BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre!

CEI is working in joint venture with ZGF Architects as the architectural component of the Affinity Partnerships team.

The new Acute Care Centre is being delivered by public-private partnership (P3), with construction anticipated to get underway in the winter of 2014/15.

The Acute Care Centre will include inpatient units, an Emergency Department, Medical Imaging and Procedural Suites, Hematology/Oncology Department and Pediatric Intensive Care for BC Children’s Hospital



Entering the 4th Dimension: Putting the “I” in BIM

Navisworks_1 Navisworks_2 Navisworks_3CEI Architecture uses building information modeling processes and software to design most of our new projects. This post is part of a series by Scott Chatterton, CEI’s in-house BIM guru, on the benefits and opportunities of BIM for us and our clients.

There is so much more to building information modeling than just using Revit to create a digital model.

Architecturally, we can use the model not only to create our production drawings, but also for creating visualization, exploring the design of the building, and integrating the consultants’ models for collaboration.

There is so much more that can be done with a BIM model after it leaves the architect’s office.

The project’s construction manager can use the “information” in the model (the “I” in BIM) to assist in the estimation and scheduling construction processes. This is called 4D BIM.

Because the Revit model is basically a database of the building, items can easily be extracted in the form of schedule of quantities or materials and components. Items such as doors and windows can easily be scheduled, as well as quantities of materials such as area of brick, or more specifically an area quantification of a specific type of Gypsum board. By pushing the Revit model into such programs as Navisworks or Design Review, the contractor or even the sub-trades can explore the digital model to gain a much better understanding of the scope of work, and pull material quantification specific to their trades. You even have the ability to extract quantities of materials that are not even in the Revit model.

By being able to use calculations from the Revit model, such as the lineal length of a specific wall type or the area of specific room, you can use these calculations to estimate the quantity of items not necessary in the Revit model. An example of this would be the ability to calculate the total length of moisture-resistant gypsum board, to find out the amount of coved rubber floor base required for wet areas. Or use the model to calculate the amount of concrete from the structural model.

Not only can the model be used for quantification, it can also be used for construction sequencing. By simply modifying the architectural model, the contractor can create a construction sequence model which can be used in Navisworks and Microsoft Project to graphically show the sequence of construction along the construction timeline.

More and more construction companies and contractors are making the most of the “I” in BIM to help speed up construction time, reduce waste and lower the overall cost of a project.

It’s just one more way BIM is revolutionizing the design and construction industry.

Our next article will be on BIM and the impact on design. Stay tuned.

Got a BIM question? Email Scott Chatterton at