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Adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy, but no industry has been impacted quite like healthcare. In preparation for the impending influx of COVID-19 patients, two of our clients are acting swiftly and with intent.

 

On Friday afternoon, long-time partner Brant Community Healthcare System contacted Architect Bob Currie for help creating seven negative pressure resuscitation rooms at Brantford General Hospital (BGH). 

 

The following morning, Bob rallied our leading healthcare engineers, Clay Cope and Dave Thompson, to brainstorm ideas to transform the available spaces. The team met at BGH at 4 p.m. to review the rooms and assess if their ideas would work. By noon the next day, WalterFedy had a complete concept sketch with a full description of the design, allowing the hospital’s contractor to build a mock-up room for testing. At 6 p.m. Sunday, the contractor finalized the mock-up room, and testing showed it functioned as intended. With the support of hospital officials and tradespeople, construction on all seven rooms was completed over the five days that followed, and all were ready for clinical use by Friday.

 

Our municipal partners are also exploring ways to ease the strain of COVID-19 on resources. For one client, we are helping determine whether one of their buildings can be temporarily repurposed. We are evaluating the emergency power distribution system at a facility to explore the possibility of using it as an 'emergency shelter’ if the need arises. Our electrical team is currently reviewing what loads are connected to their emergency power system and verifying that the generator is suitably sized for their requirements. 

 

These are remarkable examples of what we can accomplish when we work together during times of crisis. Our teams are actively collaborating with several other healthcare and municipal partners on projects to ensure our communities are better equipped for what is to come.

 

Projects like these are being prioritized within our workload because of their community importance. If your organization has a COVID-19 related need that we can help with, please contact us via  solutions@walterfedy.com and we will connect you with the right person internally. We want to do our part to help those on the frontlines and flatten the curve.

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WalterFedy has received an Outstanding Project Award for excellence in educational facility design in the spring 2020 edition of LEARNING BY DESIGN, the premier source for education design innovation and excellence. The Janet Metcalfe Public School (Kitchener, ON) has been recognized by Learning By Design magazine for its architectural and interior design and for having next-generation benchmark type design and planning features worthy of imitation. 


LEARNING BY DESIGN’s distinguished spring 2020 jury of five architects and end-user’s applauded WalterFedy for its accomplishment in designing the Janet Metcalfe Public School.  All projects included in this edition are each peer-reviewed. The jury discusses and looks for in the project unique and or new concepts being implemented to improve education facility building design.  Projects such as the Janet Metcalfe Public School are scored on six measures: Innovation, Community Need, Interior Design, Sustainability, Functional Design, and 21st Century Learning.   


The Jury comments about this project included: “The exterior entry design and lobby space is very welcoming and warm. It is very nice to see a medically fragile program represented within a project that has strong interior and exterior design. What stands out is how the materials and finishes were selected to replicate the forest landscape that surrounds the building. While part of the finishes involves this nature aspect, other components pay homage to the technology industry. This school is a perfect blend of the two elements.” 


LEARNING BY DESIGN, published in the Spring, Summer, Fall each year circulates to more than 50,000 leaders and decision-makers at all levels of education—from early childhood and elementary schools, career-technical, college, and university-level institutions across the United States.  For more details and to access the magazine’s digital edition, visit: www.learningbydesignmagazine.com  

 

View the original press release here.
View an e-version of the magazine here.

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Employees like Chris Powell are a hiring manager’s dream. After graduating from Conestoga College’s Civil Engineering program, Chris took the first job he ever formally interviewed for — an Inspector/Designer position at WalterFedy — and made it the foundation of a successful career. Now Team Leader of Civil Field Review and an Associate of the Firm, his career is a true “from the ground up” story. If there’s one thing the decade-long tenure has taught Chris, it is the value of time.  

 

In a society accustomed to instant gratification, time is a hot commodity, and managing it is a fine art.  “In this industry, your ability to manage commitments, as well juggling personal and professional life is how you succeed,” says Chris. “Time is the most valuable thing in the world. We can make more money, we can hire more people, but we can’t create more time. To waste time is a very different thing than wasting money.”  

 

Backed by over a decade of industry experience, Chris shared some of his insight around managing, investing and respecting time. 

 

Taking the time to do things right 

A good reputation can take years to earn, but only one misstep to falter. For that reason, Chris is committed to doing a job right and doing it well. Sometimes that means taking a bit of extra time. “I want to make sure everything is done right. If we are worried it isn’t, we go back and fix the issue, so we don’t sacrifice our integrity with the client.”  

 

Part of doing a job well is making sure the right people are managing the right pieces. “One saying that always sticks with me is Lead, follow, or get out of the way,” says Chris.  It can be tempting to step in and take control, but it’s important to assess whether you are being a help or a hindrance. “Especially in management, you have to understand when it is your time to act and when to play a supporting role.”  

 

Investing time in people 

Career development can be a struggle, especially if you are uncertain about your path. Having an ally and mentor in the workplace can help ease some of that pressure. As a leader, Chris firmly believes in developing meaningful, lasting relationships with everyone on his team. “Whether they work at WalterFedy today, or left years ago, they are still welcome at my table,” he explains.  

 

“Being a leader is not just listening, but trying to motivate, support, and build people up. I am here to help people through challenges whether they are personal or professional,” he says. “What continues to make me feel successful is giving other people opportunities to succeed.” 

 

Chris’ commitment to investing time in others extends beyond his immediate team. Strong relationships with Owners and Contractors lead to stronger projects, and building those relationships takes time and care. 

 

“If we can all agree to be fair and equitable to each other, we will have great projects every single time,” said Chris. To do this, you need to have great communication. “I believe in open communication and honesty,” Chris explains. “If we’ve made a mistake, I will call it a mistake. Transparency is key.” 

 

Balancing your time commitments 

The concept of work-life balance is both increasingly sought-after and difficult to achieve. 

 

“You have your professional career, your personal well-being, and your family,” says Chris. “It’s a trifecta.” Each aspect of your life affects the others, he goes on to explain. Finding a balance between these three competing facets is never easy, and it is a skill acquired through time, practice, and sometimes struggle. 

 

“Setting boundaries is an important piece of it,” he offers. This can be anything from having guidelines around when you take phone calls and dedicating time to be distraction-free, to taking advantage of the supports your workplace offers. Field Review sometimes demands long days and weekend work. To prevent burn out, Chris encourages his team to leverage company flex-time to balance out the work week and take vacations when they’re needed.  

 

“I try to always say yes to time-off requests,” he explains. “As a team, we make it work. There’s a lot of trust, respect and support. You know you can step away for vacation, and the team will take good care of things until you come back.”  

 

Sharing your time with the community 

Being generous with your time is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and the community. Not only does it help the community prosper, but it can also instill a sense of purpose and belonging. “I take a lot of joy out of working with people, building people, and supporting people,” Chris says. As someone who enjoys mentoring others, Conestoga College’s program advisory committee and job shadow programs were a great fit. Last year, Chris helped facilitate 30 job shadow opportunities with industry experts, helping students explore the paths open to them upon graduation. For him, volunteerism is a way to build the skills and confidence of our next generation of workers and set them up for success. 

-- 

Interested in connecting with Chris to discuss your next project or career goals? Send him an email or connect with him on LinkedIn

 

If you’d like to explore a position with the Field Review team, be sure to visit our careers page or express your interest to hr@walterfedy.com. 

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March 31, 2020

With the announcement from Premier Ford extending the state of emergency in Ontario for at least another two weeks, and Minister Lecce announcing schools will remain closed until the end of April, WalterFedy has decided to keep our workforce at home until at least May 4, 2020 as well. All employees who are able will continue to work from home as they have been for the last few weeks. We will continue to be available via email Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to serve our clients.

 

March 17, 2020

WalterFedy and AEC Developments are continuing to work hard to meet the needs of our clients during this extremely difficult time. Information around the COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, and we continue to monitor the updates and developments as they are released. In a step to protect the health and safety of our staff and clients, WalterFedy and AEC Developments is closing our office and employees will be working remotely until at least April 6, 2020. Our staff will continue to be available via email Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to serve our clients.
 

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Voice, visibility, and education play an important role in creating communities that are more gender-equitable. In honour of International Women’s Day, we wanted to amplify and celebrate the voices of the incredible women in our organization by presenting them with a challenge in reflection. We asked for their favourite quote or a piece of advice that has positively impacted their lives. We have shared the collection below in hopes that they will educate and inspire others too.  

 

Don’t be afraid to take smart risks. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be hard on yourself when you make a mistake. It is what we learn from a mistake that helps us do better next time. 

- Sheri East 

 

Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that's the one that is going to help you grow.  

- Natalya Smith  

 

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
(Ronald Reagan) 

- Donna Lloyd 

 

Self-care is not a luxury — it is a necessity. Make your social, emotional, intellectual, and physical wellness a priority, because when you start to take your needs seriously, others will too. 

- Aurrey Drake 

 

Speak up when you have something to say. As women, we often wait to be told it’s our turn to speak. Be confident in the experiences and knowledge you have gained, even if (especially if!) it’s different than someone else’s experience or opinion. Don’t wait for someone to ask if you have something to add. Your voice is important. 

- Victoria Campbell 

 

No matter what happens in the office, the sun will always come up tomorrow morning. 

- Marlee Sauder 

 

“Grow. It’s a big world. There’s room. You fit. I promise.” (Owen Lindley) 

- Katie McQuaid 

 

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”  (Jennifer Lee) 

- Camilla Evans 

 

There is always something to be thankful for. 

- Shelley Forwell 

 

Be a good listener and always be willing to take others' advice.  

- Diane Weinstein 

 

A team is not a group of people who belong to the same department. A team is a group of people who trust each other and have each other’s backs. 

- Eva Steininger 


Work-life balance is more than just time management. Some of the best tools you can have in your career are those you have gained through life experiences in parenting and life management.  In the same way, some of your best strategies in parenting and life management will be gained through experiences in your career.    
- Melissa Fishman

 

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.” (Gina Carey) 

- Christina Salieb 

 

 

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There’s always a story behind how people choose their careers. For Brian Verspagen, Water Resources Engineer, it was a love of cars. A motorhead at heart, his enthusiasm for vehicles originally steered him toward mechanical engineering. After further research, his eyes were opened to the many options in engineering and he found himself gravitating to the water resources specialty at the University of Waterloo.

 

What was it that drew him in? “The water resources principles really clicked for me,” he explains. “The fluid hydraulics, hydrology, and the calculus behind it were all things I understood, and I thought I would enjoy the practice.”

 

After graduation, he furthered his education with a Master of Applied Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Guelph. His studies, including his thesis on thermal enrichment of stormwater runoff from pavement surfaces, only furthered his passion for the field.

 

With his Masters in hand, Brian’s career path took him down south to Florida and Texas to try his hand at work in a warmer climate. As much as the warm weather was great for cruising, Brian was drawn back to the Waterloo Region in 2000 and in 2009 he joined WalterFedy to establish the Water Resources Team. He is now a Senior Project Manager and Team Leader for the group, in addition to being a Partner with the firm.

 

In the last 10 years, the Water Resources Team has grown to five professionals dedicated to designing water resource solutions for a variety of project types. Brian and his team have worked on several projects using Low Impact Development (LID) measures to enhance groundwater recharge, including monitoring the sites to prove that the implemented measures have a positive impact.

 

“Early in my career, I saw more projects focused on designing to the minimum standard for development than I do now,” says Brian. “The shift to doing more projects using LID measures is more environmentally responsible and allows us to do design work that really enhances the natural environment. It represents client demand for development in our growing communities without sacrificing the environment.”

 

Brian has seen the importance of water resources grow exponentially in the last decade. “Every project needs water resources in some capacity,” says Brian. “It’s not possible to construct a new road, develop a site, or build a subdivision without having an aspect of water resources involved. This means we have to have a good understanding of every sector’s needs and challenges to design the best solution for each client.”

 

It is that client-centred approach that makes all the difference for our team. Every new project is an opportunity to be creative when designing the perfect solution. “We look at each client’s goal and develop the best approach to fulfil it,” says Brian. “We have a team dynamic that allows us to look at a problem from a number of different angles to ensure we are choosing the solution that best balances client needs with an optimal approach.”

 

What’s in store for the future of water resources? A lot according to Brian. “The potential that our rivers, streams, and creeks offer as spaces for people to reconnect with nature will continue to gain importance, along with the need to preserve and enhance the quality of these natural systems as functioning ecosystems,” he says. “The role of water resources engineering will evolve to ensure these natural systems continue to function and are seamlessly incorporated into our landscape.”

 

If you’re looking for a new place to explore your passion for water resources, WalterFedy is expanding our team to include another Water Resources Engineer and a Junior Water Resources Engineer and we’d love to hear from you! You can also visit walterfedy.com/careers to see all the available opportunities to join our team.

 

 

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WalterFedy is happy to announce three new members to our partnership. We would like to congratulate Shelley Forwell, Tricia Smith and Elena Wiersma who have all been important members of the WalterFedy/AEC community for many years. We look forward to the growth their collective knowledge, strategic mindset, and collaborative nature will bring our firm.

 

Shelley Forwell, P.Eng., is the Business Unit Leader for our Civil Engineering Department. Shelley has been with WalterFedy since 2012 and has a long history of managing complex civil projects across Ontario. Shelley is passionate about people and is particularly driven to see others succeed. She builds strong relationships that create a truly collaborative work environment.

 

Tricia Smith, P.Eng., is the Manager of WalterFedy’s Mechanical and Electrical Engineering departments. Tricia first came to WalterFedy as a mechanical engineering co-op student in 2007, before joining WalterFedy full-time in 2010. Now, with close to 50 team members in two locations, she is a dynamic and supportive leader within Engineering Services. Tricia is known for her positivity, ingenuity, and enthusiasm when tackling multi-faceted challenges.

 

Elena Wiersma first came to WalterFedy for a co-op term in 2000. After graduating with her Master of Architecture in 2003, she joined WalterFedy full time as an Intern Architect. She is now a registered Architect and a Team Leader in the Education Sector. While her efforts are primarily focused on developing contemporary learning environments, Elena has also been instrumental to several large-scale healthcare projects. Elena was the first LEED AP at WalterFedy and is actively involved in the firm’s sustainability programs.

 

Congratulations Shelley, Tricia, and Elena. The WalterFedy community is excited to have you join the group of Partners leading us into the future.

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Shiyu Wei is a multi-talented person. She paints, designs artisanal jewellery, and she is a mathematics whiz. With her creative prowess and appetite for logic, a career in architecture was a natural fit.

 

Backed by a math degree from Harvard and a Master of Architecture from MIT, Shiyu landed her first job at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, a prestigious firm in Seattle, WA. The Pacific Northwest is known for its natural beauty and abundant resources, and clients were eager to see that reflected in their designs. This meant heavy timber construction—a less conventional method in other states—was in popular demand. “It was a great experience because I got to dabble in the design of the structure and work closely with engineers to make it work.”

 

Now an Intern Architect at WalterFedy, Shiyu’s natural curiosity for how things operate has been instrumental to her career growth. Her commitment to understanding all parts of the process, from initial design to final review, elevates her work. “Having knowledge of construction details helps you design better. It’s a circular feedback. You can’t do the beginning well without understanding the end.”

A quantitative person, Shiyu is motivated to work with purpose. “In math, you have to be very logical and I think that has always made me want to figure out the ‘why’ in my work. I want my projects to be logical. It’s not good enough to make a design decision because it looks good or interesting.”

 

Great design is often subjective, but for Shiyu, a winning design is both layered and intentional. For this reason, Louis Khan, an American architect known for blending modern design with classical elements, is one of her design icons. “When you approach a building from a distance, you think wow that’s a great shape. Once you get closer you see beautiful material and well-placed entrances. Then you go inside. You keep zooming in and zooming in and you still find great details and beautiful things. That to me is great design.”

 

Projects don’t need to be as grandiose as Khan’s to bring joy according to Shiyu. They just need to be impactful. “Some of the projects that make me happy to be an architect are school board projects,” she said. “These projects impact people directly every day. You make the school environment a better place for the teachers and create a better learning environment for the kids. That makes me feel good.”

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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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