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In a burgeoning neighbourhood in Kitchener’s south-end sits Janet Metcalfe Public School, the area's newest public education facility designed to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse community it serves. With programming for children from junior kindergarten to Grade 8, the two-storey facility includes 20 classrooms, two special education rooms, five kindergarten rooms, an administration centre, library, technology classroom with workshop, double gymnasium, and washrooms. Home to a specialty program for medically fragile students, the design includes program space that accommodates the needs of eight children with medical needs, their caregivers, and teachers, ensuring equal access to education for all. The site also hosts a 6,800 SF daycare facility.

 

The building is located across from a preserved remnant of Carolinian forest. This landscape has inspired the materials used in the building. Clay brick, stone, and glass are the main material, with the underside of soffits appearing as wood. Soaring windows throughout the building flood communal areas and classrooms with natural light, and delight staff and students with views of the neighbouring conservation area. Warm wood finishes and natural colours inside, with bright colours utilized sparingly for wayfinding, allow students to move through the calm space with purpose. The playful green in the Library emulates the peaceful pastoral views of Waterloo Region, while exposed ceilings, modern fixtures, and gleaming glass align with the modern feel of the booming tech industry in the area.

When construction was about to commence, the requirements for the medically fragile area became known. The program was scheduled to move into another new school but the space was too small to meet program needs. The consultation process to develop the design of this space involved analysis of the existing inadequate classroom facility. Meetings and discussions with teachers and leadership lead to the conversion of two proposed classrooms into a specialized facility for medically fragile students.

 

The medically fragile program area includes a large, fully accessible washroom with a change table, and a large separate changing area with storage for supplies and clothing. An additional medical nursing area has space for charting, as well as refrigerated storage for medication and a sink for medical preparation. The design also includes a laundry and kitchen area within the classroom to care for the needs of students. The classroom itself has ample space to accommodate mobility needs and support equipment. A padded calming area allows students to retreat to a comfortable space and still be part of the lesson. This area includes a variety of sensory simulation equipment. To enhance functionality, a separate room was incorporated to store mobility equipment when not in use. This space plays in important role in legitimizing the educational needs of a historically underserved student demographic.

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Corbec Inc, a respected steel galvanizing company native to Quebec, has chosen Hamilton’s Red Hill Business Park as the site of their fourth Canadian plant. Valued at over $40 million, the 100,000 square foot industrial space will house a fully automated galvanizing system, 12 ft. deep equipment pits, as well as an office, cafeteria, and washroom facilities for the 100 people the plant expects to employ. In collaboration with construction manager Cooper Construction, WalterFedy is providing architecture; structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering services for the project.

 

“This is a project that highlights our industrial abilities, so it’s a fun project from that point of view,” said Structural Designer Kyle Pellerin. But even textbook buildings come with unique challenges. The City of Hamilton’s Planning and Development departments have stringent rules around aesthetics to keep the City looking beautiful. “Industrial buildings like these don’t usually need a modern look, but our design team is finding ways to highlight the facility that will keep the building simple, while still looking really sharp,” explained Kyle.

 

While subtle in appearance, the processes and equipment inside the building are remarkably complex. “Corbec is a leader in this industry,” said Project Manager Aaron Engel. “They use a system that is hands free through the dip and galvanizing process, which takes workers out of the hazardous areas of the plant. It’s very innovative.” Unlike most designs, the team is building an envelope to support a pre-determined layout and process. Since the equipment is entirely automated, designers must meet a multitude of specific criteria to ensure functionality. “Structurally this is a very sensitive project,” said Aaron. “There are extreme tolerance requirements for the automated conveyance system – less than an inch. Any variances can throw off the system.” 

 

Equipped with 3D models from suppliers demonstrating where equipment will sit, the team is meticulously planning structural elements, from the facility’s shell to catwalks, platforms, and access points. “It’s not always easy to wrap your head around 2D drawings for buildings like these,” said Kyle. “A 3D model makes it easier to spot potential challenges.” Using 3D drafting and collaboration software, the team can not only work through design interferences, but also walk through the model virtually with the Owner to ensure the intent is being met.

 

“This is a great development for Southern Ontario. Hot dip galvanizing is always a pinch point for steel manufacturers. To have more of these galvanizing vendors in Southwestern Ontario is a great benefit to the steel industry and will be helpful in reducing time on delivery,” said Aaron.

 

Construction is expected to kick off in early 2020.

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To welcome winter, we turned to our Interior Designer, Lisa Speers, to give us a look into what we can expect in the coming season!  
 

Express Yourself

Bold geometrics, hand-drawn sketches, playful colour blocking: this style is all about expression. As with the expressionist art movement, this trend celebrates the bold and imperfect. You can try daring colour combinations such as burnished red with navy, or mustard with mauve, or  embrace line art – a key motif for this look.

 

Thoughtfully Simple

On the flip side, this trend encourages a calm, warm and peaceful mood to work in – it’s all about making our surroundings safe and inviting. If bold and bright isn't your style, trade it in for something soft and neutral. 

 

Colour Trends

This season, embrace warm neutrals like oatmeal and natural buff. Beige has also made a comeback and can serve as the perfect base to build around. 

 

Mustard is another popular colour in interiors. In previous seasons, we were seeing mustard paired with Scandinavian neutrals, but for this season, it is being matched with richer jewel tones. 

 

We haven’t seen a lot of purple in a while, but its time has come. Purple represents royalty, luxury, opulence, and also creativity, wisdom, and peace— all the things we want to feel in relation to our environments. Used on a small scale, this colour can have a big impact.

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On December 13, 2019, two groups of WalterFedy volunteers visited the St. Jacobs Lions Club to help fill Christmas stockings for StuffIn Stockings.

 

Established in 2010, StuffIn Stockings is led by the St. Jacobs Lions Club, a group that believes everyone should feel special and remembered on Christmas day. What started as a small passion project has grown exponentially over the past nine years and, along with many community partners, is helping create holiday memories for many in need. This year, volunteers stuffed almost 3,000 stockings for infants to seniors, for 27 different charities.

 

Melissa Fishman, WalterFedy Lighting Team Leader, is the Vice President of the St. Jacobs Lions Club and connected us with StuffIn Stockings for the 2019 holiday season. We began collecting stocking stuffers in November. In early December, we teamed up with several committee members to fill stockings and learn more about the program’s impact in Waterloo Region.

 

“I’ve been involved with StuffIn Stockings for a number of years and as we get bigger, having corporate support is so important,” said Melissa. “I love being a part of something that means so much to the community and can bring a smile to someone’s face over the holidays.”

 

While we were volunteering, CTV News came for a visit to learn about the StuffIn Stockings story for their In Your Backyard segment. Mellissa also put CTV’s Max Wark to work stuffing stockings for different age groups.

 

Congratulations to the StuffIn Stockings team for all their hard work and another successful holiday season.

 

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For the second consecutive year, WalterFedy has made the list of Waterloo Area’s Top Employers. Released earlier today, the list recognizes businesses in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph that are industry leaders based on the physical workplace, work atmosphere, benefits, vacation and time-off, communications, performance management, training, and community involvement.

 

The judges identified WalterFedy’s commitment to employee engagement, training and development, and employee support as some of the key factors behind our selection for the list this year.

 

“Today was a great achievement for our team,” said Victoria Campbell, Human Resources Manager. “We will celebrate being named one of Waterloo Area’s Top Employer, but we will also celebrate the people who work here, who care a great deal about the work they do and who they do it with!”

 

Creating an environment where people are supportive and collaborative within departments and across the company is an important part of our corporate culture.

“I love my job because everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission,” said Parisa Fazeli, a structural designer at the firm. “This truly creates an environment where everybody is there for each other and supportive.”

 

Alex Lubczuk, a member of the Asset and Facilities Management team, appreciates the opportunity to work with friendly, skilled professionals that WalterFedy continues to attract. “It’s nice coming in to work every day—our teams are diverse and the people we bring in are talented.”

 

We are always striving to deliver exceptional value and build long lasting relationships for our clients, and the same can be said for how we operate internally. “These internal relationships are essential to our business success, and a great deal of time and effort is put into building an environment where this can continue to be fostered,” said Victoria. “We want to learn and grow together as a team.  When you are stretching yourself and taking on new challenges, there is always a team of people around you that are supporting you, and encouraging you to keep going. The friendly faces, and smiles, the willingness to try something new, excitement around a new idea for a project, and the desire to come together as a firm to achieve a common goal. That, to me, is engagement.”

 

Read more about WalterFedy’s recognition.

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After the success of last year’s Take Our Kids to Work Day initiative, WalterFedy once again welcomed grade nine students into our office for a day of mentorship, relationship building, and career exploration.

 

Now in its 25th year, the Canada-wide initiative invites grade nine students  to step out of class and into the working world. Under the care of a relative, friend, or volunteer host, the students have an opportunity to examine potential career courses and stimulate conversations about their job interests in a safe and engaging way. 

 

Led by Human Resources Generalist, Natalya Smith, WalterFedy’s program was designed to demonstrate life in an integrated architecture and engineering firm, and to provide the students with valuable networking, resume building, and interview advice.

 

“We wanted to go beyond providing students with career exposure—we wanted to give them an experience. Hands-on learning is an important part of deciding a future career,” said Natalya. “Our goal was to showcase the various career options available and prevent students from feeling siloed in a "typical" career path. We also wanted them to understand if they didn't know what they wanted to do just yet, that was okay too.“

 

In total, nine students from seven schools in the Region participated in our programming. It is estimated over 200,000 students participate each year.

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This past weekend, the City of Guelph announced the grand opening of a long-awaited parking garage in downtown Guelph – a project that’s been in the works for a decade. The brand new, six-storey building offers the downtown community 400+ parking spaces, bicycle parking, and EV charging stations.

 

The City engaged WalterFedy to complete schematic design of the parking garage and carry out compliance review during construction, working with the architect, James Fryett Architect Inc., and the design builder, Newton Group. During the facility’s construction, our civil engineers simultaneously designed the reconstruction of Wilson Street. During design, it was determined that the existing one-way street would better serve the new facility if traffic went in the opposite direction.

 

Our team worked closely with the City and its stakeholders to ensure their needs were met throughout the project. We met with multiple community groups including City staff, local businesses, and the general public to develop a concept with wide appeal. At the request of the City, the design team made the garage resemble an office building rather than a traditional garage to better suit the aesthetic of the downtown core.

 

Preparing the schematic design of the project proved to be an exciting challenge as the site was bounded by the railway on the south, major streets on either side of the proposed parkade, and the site had poor soil conditions. We also had to consider the logistics of snow removal in the winter months given the size constraints of the site. This resulted in the decision to put a roof on top of the facility as the site limited where snow could be placed after clearing it away. This decision also allowed for the addition of solar panels later in the design process to help offset the City’s energy consumption.

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For two weeks in October, the WalterFedy community rallies around our Hockey Helps the Homeless (HHTH) tournament team. This year, Lutherwood, House of Friendship, oneROOF Youth Services, and YW K-W Emergency Shelter split the funds raised at the tournament.

 

Our Team Captain, Steve Hales, has been involved with HHTH since the tournament’s inception six years ago. “Our company hockey team was participating in other local fundraisers when the opportunity to join HHTH came up and we knew it was a great fit with our corporate values,” says Steve. “The chance to play with ex-NHL and Olympic athletes and hear stories from their playing days also made it a unique experience to take part in.”

 

But what is it about this tournament that keeps our employees coming back year after year? “This tournament is a great opportunity to give back to several local charities at the same time,” says Jordan Hardy, WalterFedy HHTH team member. “I’ve been volunteering with my family since I was young, but what I didn’t know growing up was just how many charities there are. Contributing to four charities at once reaffirms my belief of how critical it is to give back, provide support to your neighbour, and be thankful for what you have.”

 

Jordan’s project management skills have been called on this year to manage the overall internal fundraising efforts for our team. Along with a BBQ, a jersey day, and a 50/50 draw, the team also coordinated an internal silent auction to fundraise for the tournament. “The entire company comes together to support the fundraising efforts of our team and we really appreciate it,” says Jordan. “It shows how important community support is to our company.”

 

The tournament is run entirely by volunteers from industries across Waterloo Region. For the past five years, coordinating all those volunteers has been Donna Lloyd’s role within HHTH. As a long-time WalterFedy employee, well-known community member, and hockey enthusiast, she rarely turns down an opportunity to give back to the community. “I’ve been volunteering in our community for as long as I can remember, but being involved in this tournament has brought together my passion for hockey and my love of working with the community,” says Donna. “I truly believe in why this tournament is run; every Canadian needs a safe place to call home and the support to thrive.”

 

This year’s tournament exceeded its fundraising goal of $235,000 and raised $260,000. It also surpassed a total of $1 million raised since the tournament’s inception. We’d like to wish a big congratulations to this phenomenal community event for all its success. We’re happy to be a part of all the amazing work Hockey Helps the Homeless has done supporting our community.

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Every October, the WalterFedy community rallies around our Hockey Helps the Homeless (HHTH) team. The annual tournament supports local charities and in 2019, Lutherwood, House of Friendship, oneROOF Youth Services and YW K-W Emergency Shelter will split the funds raised at the tournament.

 

Our Team Captain, Steve Hales, has been involved with HHTH since the tournament’s inception six years ago. “Our company hockey team was participating in other local fundraisers when the opportunity to join HHTH came up and we knew it was a great fit with our corporate values,” says Steve. “The chance to play with ex-NHL and Olympic athletes and hear stories from their playing days also made it a unique experience to take part in.”

 

But what is it about this tournament that keeps our employees coming back year after year? “This tournament is a great opportunity to give back to several local charitable organizations at the same time,” says Jordan Hardy, WalterFedy HHTH team member. “I’ve been volunteering with my family since I was young, but what I didn’t know growing up was just how many charities there are. Contributing to four charities at once reaffirms my belief of how critical it is to give back, provide support to your neighbour, and be thankful for what you have.”

 

Jordan’s project management skills have been called on this year to manage the overall internal fundraising efforts for our team. Along with a BBQ, a jersey day and a 50/50 draw, the team also coordinated a huge silent auction to fundraise for the tournament. “The entire company comes together to support the fundraising efforts of our team and we really appreciate it,” says Jordan. “It shows how important community support is to our company.”

 

The tournament is run entirely by volunteers from industries across the Waterloo Region. Donna Lloyd, a long-time WalterFedy employee, well-known community member and hockey enthusiast has coordinated all those volunteers for the past five years.  “I’ve been volunteering in our community for as long as I can remember, but being involved in this tournament has brought together my passion for hockey and my love of working with the community,” says Donna. “I truly believe in why this tournament is run; every Canadian needs a safe place to call home and the support to thrive.”

 

This year’s tournament exceeded their huge fundraising goal of $235,000 and raised $260,000! They also surpassed a total of $1 million dollars raised since the tournament’s inception. Congratulations to this phenomenal community event for all your successes. WalterFedy is happy to be a part of all the amazing work you’ve done supporting our community.

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The job interview is undoubtedly one of the most challenging legs of the career hunt journey, and rightly so. It is an opportunity that, if done right, can change the course of your life. If the stakes weren’t already high, you have the added challenge of proving your prowess to a group of strangers, often in an hour or less. So, what can a candidate do to rise to the challenge? Natalya Smith, Human Resource Generalist at WalterFedy, offered some helpful tips to put you on the path to success.  

 

Do your research 

The first tip is a simple one: take the time to learn more about the company and familiarize yourself with the role. “A wow moment for me is when I can tell someone has put in a lot of work into preparing for the interview. It comes through in their delivery,” Natalya explained. “Give the process the time it needs. Its when you can show you know a bit about the history, values, and products or projects.” Not only will this research help you demonstrate your interest in the company, it also helps the interviewer supplement your knowledge. “I also want to hear what people are saying about us so I can fill in any gaps and clarify role expectations.” 

 

Sell yourself—"Coles Notes” version 

Do you remember the days of Coles Notes, the printed student study guides that summarized key themes for book reports? While everything is online these days, the analogy still stands. “When I say Coles Notes, I mean a brief summary,” said Natalya. “What are the top three things needed in this role? Sell yourself by showing what experience you have that supports those responsibilities.” The best time to give this pitch is at the beginning of the interview, or when you are wrapping up the conversation. While talking about your best attributes can be uncomfortable, it is crucial to a great interview. One of the biggest challenges is knowing just how much to offer. “Be succinct," she encouraged.  

 

Use the SAR approach to answer questions 

Have you ever found yourself talking in circles when trying to answer an interview question? You aren’t alone. Natalya suggests practicing the SAR approach—situation, action, result. “Tell us what happened, what you did, and the result. If you can give me these three things, it covers everything we want to know.” This format helps keep your answer clear and organized. An added bonus: it works for just about every question.  

 

Ask questions 

As the interview comes to a close, it is likely you will have a chance to ask questions. Take advantage of this opportunity! Your questions do not need to be profound – they can be as simple as asking your interviewers what they love about the company. “The reason you want to ask questions is because the answers you get might help solidify your interest,” said Natalya. “We are interviewing you from an organization perspective, but you are also interviewing us. We want you to leave the interview feeling informed about the role, the team, the environment, and the company.” 

 

When the day of your interview finally comes and the pressure is mounting, pause, breathe, and remember this: your interview panel wants you to succeed as much as you do! “I know outside of this high-pressure environment you are an amazing person,” said Natalya, “Everyone has something great to offer and that’s what I want to see. Be natural. Be you.” 

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