Kookaburra Lodge, located at 7329 Village Way, Sun Peaks in the Interior of British Columbia is an appealing combination of Tyrolean inspired alpine aesthetics reinterpreted with an eye for modern sensibilities and usage. The building has effectively “recentered” the existing alpine village of Sun Peaks and provided a new standard of quality in commercial construction for the region.
The building features a commercial ground level, and three levels of luxury apartment accommodation. In addition, a bell tower and commercial structure connected to the main building above a trafficable breezeway, provides strong articulation and positional salience in the context of the resort.
Kookaburra Lodge was largely constructed in concrete with steel stud infill panels covered by an EIFS (stucco) system, providing high levels of insulation and capacity for heat retention. The top floor, including the lofts, were framed with engineered glulam beams and protected by a “cold roof” system, which mitigates heating and thawing issues resulting in unsafe ice buildup and potential leaks.
The design and construction team worked assiduously to deliver a building that would be efficient to operate and comfortable to inhabit year round, in a climate that sees a 70 degree range of temperatures; from -30 degrees to 40 degrees. This was achieved through the provision of cross ventilation wherever possible, eaves, highly efficient roof and wall insulation, efficient boiler design, and Heat Recovery Insulation systems. Kookaburra Lodge is the first building of three masterplanned buildings in the development.
The design featured challenging details, in particular the “ski” and “schuss” patterns featured on the balconies. After considering a variety of materials and installation methods, laser cut, anodized steel was used, which achieved the greatest visual impact, met scheduling requirements and reduced future maintenance significantly.
Climactic conditions however posed the greatest challenge. Winter conditions typically set in during October, so the building externals had to be completed by this time. A longer than usual winter reduced the project team’s time window from April to October until May until October, leaving a six month window to achieve this.
Latent conditions including the discovery of significant amounts of organic material and underground springs added to a programming challenge, which already included service provisions for two future stages of the development.
Having overcome the challenge of completing the building’s externals on program, a fire occurred on the eastern commercial side of the building at approximately 80% completion, which resulted in smoke damage to the commercial level, mechanical and fire systems and several completed units.
As a result of the tight schedule, we developed some detailed scheduling procedures to ensure lockup would be achieved prior to the onset of winter.
Detailed scheduling was used to solve problems associated with meeting the program:
- A “Seasonal Work” schedule was developed for civil and landscaping items that could be undertaken following winter, which would not delay achievement of Practical Completion.
- Concrete pours had to occur on scheduled days as a result of a skills shortage in this area. In the event that steel tying was still underway, steel workers were paired with the site supervisor and structural engineer to be completed ahead of concrete pours, even if it occurred on the same day.
- Roof insulation was undertaken by three separate teams to beat forecast snow flurries and achieve lockup
- Resources and schedules were carefully managed to accommodate the rectification of fire damage. This was treated as a project of its own in order to manage rectification quality and mitigate time impact.
The assembly of a construction team with the skill to execute extensive civil works with precision, deliver a large concrete structure and pre-engineered timber frame and roof structure between tight deadlines, was critical to the success of the project. Most importantly however was the positive culture maintained by the management team to overcome the challenges presented by climate and resource availability in a remote location.
Project Leader's Summary
We broke up management tasks depending on the aptitude of team members. On this basis, each team member was required to achieve their deliverables and maintain project documentation in their areas of responsibility.
The glue between this divide and conquer approach, was twice weekly meetings between all members of the management team. In addition, every Friday, a compulsory meeting was held to facilitate any safety talks and to encourage discussion between management and trades.
The development of good relationships between subcontractors and the head contracting team was critical in the timely and efficient execution of works. We were fortunate to enjoy the commitment of all people employed on the site, which was up to a maximum of 60.
Leading up to taking possession of the site, we worked resolved a series of design queries by holding weekly meetings with consultant teams. Monthly meetings were then held to capture any finer details that required attention. Open dialogue was maintained throughout the site, and we encouraged subcontractors to develop working relationships with subcontractors where helpful.
British Columbia has experienced an extremely busy period of construction over the past decade. At the outset of the project, we knew that we would have to develop strong relationships with our subcontractors and suppliers, in order to effectively manage resourcing and materials availability. To this end, we identified areas that could pose problems. The results of this exercise were that we:
- Secured some steel elements in advance
- Where practical, sought to contractually mandate resource levels
- Maintained regularly updated delivery schedules
- Met regularly with suppliers to manage any program adjustments and potential supply issues
Since the project was located in a relatively remote area, we were also concerned about our capacity to attract and retain quality staff. We made a deliberate effort to set up the most appealing terms for builders in the area from project commencement and quickly developed an excellent reputation as an appealing employer.
It was the developer’s intent to deliver a product to market that would fetch a significant premium on pricing per square metre in comparison with other available properties. Whilst the project held the advantage of excellent location and limited availability of new product, commercial realities dictated that the building reach heights of quality previously unknown at the resort.
In an extremely pleasing result for all members of the project team, the name Kookaburra Lodge has become synonymous with quality and luxury in the resort, and its reputation continues to grow amongst global travel wholesalers as a development which will suit the accommodation needs of the most demanding clientele. One of the unforeseen benefits of this for the developer is their ability to use the strength of the Kookaburra Lodge brand to promote future stages.
The sales pricing and valuation targets were also comfortably met. Notably, these were considerably in excess of pre construction valuation forecasts.
In order to achieve these things, we used an Inspection and Test Plans that required input from statutory bodies (where required), consultants, subcontractors and management. Any deficiencies were clearly identified, logged and resolved.
The use of simple yet effective internet based resources allowed us run defects lists for the base building and individual apartments, the latter made the handover process efficient and hassle free for new owners.
The construction team met all the requirements of National Home Warranty and in addition continues to monitor the base building through an ongoing program with the Maintenance Operations Program, which provides regular assessments of the building envelope for the contractor and subsequent controlling strata body.
Benefits to the Built Environment
Kookaburra Lodge has refreshed the visual impact of Sun Peaks Village with its reinterpretation of Tyrolean design conventions. The buildings articulation is not just for show however, it is the result of thoughtful design, which minimizes wasted space, maximizes cross ventilation and levels of natural light as well as provides an efficient and comfortable abode for its inhabitants.
What is perhaps more important, is the buildings status as a community focal point. This was achieved through the installation of the bell tower, which sits at the resort’s main intersection and consists of four bells, which toll every hour between 8am and 8pm. In addition to this, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra has commissioned and performed a special piece, which features a brass quartet and the bells, which can also be used as an instrument.
In order to provide additional visual interest, several significant sculptural elements were installed during construction. The first two are totems, created by eminent West Coast sculptor Mick Brownleigh called “Sunshadow” and “Moonshadow”. These sit adjacent to the bell tower. It was a job highlight for the construction team to play a key role in designing and installing the concrete pads to support the sculptures.
A large mural adjacent to the lift was also installed. This was based on a Mick Brownleigh design, but executed by local ceramic artist Lorel Sternig. This piece is called “Kookaburra Tree” and provides visual interest in the building’s lobby.
The bells and artworks provide amenity not only to the buildings residents, but the community as a whole. They have all been well received by both full time residents of the village and its guests.
Safety Is always a key focus at all construction meetings. At the outset of construction, we undertook a review in concert with WorkSafe BC representatives to outline any areas that were likely to require diligent attention to maximize safety onsite. We also developed a schedule of “toolbox talks” and undertook these with all Kookaburra Lodge and subcontractor staff onsite. Records for these meetings were kept and a daily review of site safety was noted in the site diary.
Each of the concrete slabs measured approximately 650 square metres, and early handrail installation was key around the slab edges and in the internal stairwells. A team was assembled to rapidly install these as soon as slabs had set and they were incorporated into formwork where practical.
Fall protection was another major safety consideration. In order to prevent any “laziness” in this area, we would pair one of our safety representatives to monitor and assist subcontractors in areas that we determined required special care to be taken.
In addition to complying with Worksafe BC’s requirements for sites more than 30 mins to a major hospital and employing more that 40 staff, which required a site ambulance and first aid room, we staffed twice as many certified safety staff as was required. This allowed us to monitor subcontractors and successfully execute our responsibility to provide a safe workplace.
Workforce Organisation and Training
We believe strongly that for staff to be engaged, they must be given the opportunity to augment their skills. On this basis, training was provided for management, staff and subcontractors. Wherever possible, this consisted of formal training resulting in industry accreditation, but also consisted of skill sharing and informal information sessions.
Throughout the course of the project, we successfully had three of our staff achieve Level 3 First Aid Certificates. In addition several staff obtained crane operation certificates. Both of these accreditations allowed staff to move into new positions in the construction team and were rewarded with additional remuneration.
Two key areas that we determined required the most up to date practices were for waterproofing and fire rating. For fire rating, we arranged regular supplier visits and installation demonstrations, to maximize the effectiveness of installed fire rating elements.
Waterproofing was particularly challenging, as the EIFS system could not be penetrated once installed to avoid water ingress, and specific techniques for flashing installation and caulking had to be taken. In order to achieve this, we arranged a series of meeting prior and during installation with the envelope consultant, so that waterproofing measures were effectively installed.
We recognized that our management staff had core competencies in specific areas. In order to broaden the management capacity of each member, responsibilities were transferred between staff. Staff members were then be accountable for achieving a specific outcome in this area, with the oversight of their peers. This practice increased the confidence of managers to undertake new challenges, provided fresh ideas to incumbents and improved communication within the management team. Training for use of an online management system was also provided.
The Occupation Certificate for Stage 1 of Kookaburra Lodge was achieved on July 9th 2009. Completion of seasonal works was achieved in November 2009, prior to the busy winter season. Construction was achieved on budget, with a delay of only two months being experienced as a result of significant fire damage, which occurred during the latter period of construction.
Feedback from purchasers and lessees of apartments and commercial tenancies in the building has been extremely positive, and it has been hugely rewarding for the construction team to see the enjoyment that owners are deriving from their apartments and the profitable commencement of retail businesses in the commercial area.
Prior to the official opening of the building on December 12th, we successfully completed the fitout of a tapas restaurant and a two level real estate office. Since then a tobacconist and gift store has been added to the commercial mix, with another of our original tenants, Sun Peaks Spa, enjoying the aspect of their commercial tenancy, adjacent to the creek.
Having successfully navigated the coldest winter in years, the GFC and a fire, the completion of this project has been particularly rewarding for the management and construction team. The challenges experienced and focused teamwork to overcome them have resulted in strong working relationships, which we look forward to continuing in future stages.
The successful completion of the project in trying circumstances demonstrates the soundness of the team’s focus: to deliver high quality buildings through the interpretation of exceptional design into sensible construction methods.