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Just as schools, small businesses, and public services, like transit, needed to rethink what it meant to serve the public amidst a global pandemic, so too have our healthcare facilities—and perhaps in more radical ways. Today on World Health Day, we reflect on and celebrate some of the transformative work that took place over the past year in healthcare.

 

Bettering their best to prepare for the worst

In the early days of COVID, Hamilton Health Sciences (HSS) conducted a review of their oxygen system to assess their ability to support additional ventilators throughout their facilities. The study determined the systems in place at Hamilton General, a main COVID response site in the city, may experience some strain should a high volume of people require ventilators. WalterFedy’s team is actively supporting the hospital as they integrate a brand-new oxygen system complete with tanks and piping infrastructure to give them increased capacity and provide redundancy for their existing system. The implementation of the new system is a carefully coordinated and intricate dance.

 

“Running new systems within an existing hospital is always challenging,” explained project manager and mechanical engineer Dave Thompson. “There’s infection control issues to manage, finding the physical space and path to implement the infrastructure, and coordinating with existing operations on site to minimize disruptions.”

 

“Our integrated team has a strong level of experience and expertise having worked on healthcare projects on multiple sites across Ontario. So, when hospitals call and ask what they need to do, we are able to address those questions and mobilize quickly.”

 

The WalterFedy team was also brought on to design five new isolation rooms for Hamilton General’s Intensive Care Unit. This meant revamping existing private rooms within the ICU that were not yet set up for full isolation, so they could achieve negative pressure. A negative pressure room helps to contain airborne pathogens from moving to other areas of the hospital and reduces the likelihood of contamination.

 

“Having a relationship with industry partners and contractors has been essential to getting things up and running fast,” said Dave. Fast-tracked construction meant strategically and responsibly deviating from specifying exact materials as we would in normal circumstances. “We were working closely with local contractors and asking questions like what can you get today, and being flexible with how we designed in order to build quickly with what was readily available.”

 

Offsite opportunities

In early 2020, it was hard to predict how aggressively the pandemic would hit and whether the healthcare system would be able to handle a surge of patients. As the infection rates climbed upward in April, it became apparent our hospitals needed to plan for a sizable influx. Hamilton Health Sciences was quick to engage the WalterFedy team to develop early-stage plans for offsite facilities at a local Hamilton hotel and a convention centre.

 

“On Easter weekend in 2020, we were meeting with clinical people from HHS and their planners to go through these facilities and figure out how to best implement temporary washrooms, hand washing stations, and access food,” said Dave. It also meant investigating infection control measures and temporary power solutions for facilities that weren’t designed with healthcare in mind. The intent was to develop an action plan so HHS could accommodate three to four hundred people should the spread of the virus overwhelm the existing healthcare facilities. Fortunately, as numbers began tracking downward, the exercise was shelved.

 

Sanitization innovation

When personal protective equipment (PPE) demand exceeded supply in the early days of COVID, hospitals were faced with the challenge of keeping their frontline workers well equipped to safely treat patients. As a temporary measure to address the shortage, two hospitals in Hamilton developed special PPE cleaning rooms. Equipment originally designed to sanitize fruits and vegetables was identified as an interim solution. With the right configuration, the machine was able to apply ozone and peroxide in a manner that effectively killed the virus, allowing the hospital to recycle equipment.

 

Working alongside local contractors, the WalterFedy team built out rooms complete with modified HVAC systems that would allow someone wearing full PPE to enter a negative pressure environment to unbag all the used masks. The masks would then be loaded into the machine and come out on the other side clean, sanitized, and ready for reuse.

 

From vacancy to vaccine

The former RONA on Pinebush Drive in Cambridge sat empty for over a year, waiting for its next commercial big-box giant to breathe new life into the facility. In 2019, the thought of using this prime warehouse space in a bustling Smart Centre for anything but commercial purposes would have been laughable—now it’s the Region’s largest mass vaccination clinic administering over 1,000 doses a day with plans to quadruple that number as more vaccines come available.

 

Transforming this space was not as simple as turning on the lights and setting up tables. The Region engaged WalterFedy architects and engineers to support a fast-tracked revitalization to get the building back up and running to support its temporary function as a clinic. With the building services sitting dormant for over a year, basic infrastructure, like sprinkler lines, required rework to bring the life safety systems back up to standard. A remodelling of existing spaces was also necessary to support the refrigeration units guarding the vaccines. This meant retrofitting the electrical systems to support the fridges and adding hospital-grade receptacles. Under the emergency response order O.Reg. 141/20, a traditional building permit was not required to conduct the work of converting this space into a temporary health facility. This allowed our team, supported by an incredible group of contractors, City staff and Region staff to turn this project over in record time – a mere three weeks from start to finish.

 

“There was great cooperation with the City of Cambridge on this project,” said project manager and architect Michael Winters. “The building department was involved all the way through and always just a phone call away. The chief building official and fire marshal were there with us almost every walk-through which made the entire process transparent. We knew exactly what everyone was expecting, and this open line of communication laid the groundwork for the success of this project.”

 

“It’s amazing that a problem like a global pandemic presents itself and within a year we can establish a vaccine, and have people working collaboratively to bring facilities like these online in a matter of weeks to start helping people in our communities,” states Michael.

 

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While the pandemic is most likely to be remembered as a time of distancing, it has fostered a remarkable coming together of community and industry to combat the spread and navigate a “new normal.” We would like to thank everyone who has had a hand in making these projects a success, from the hospital healthcare teams, regional building officials, and planners who helped conceptualize these projects to the contractors, architects, engineers, technicians, and vendors who helped realize them.

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It’s May. The office in Kitchener is quiet save for the occasional groan-creak of a tape dispenser. As Chief Operations Officer, Mark Christensen was acutely aware of the red tape that would come with reopening an office during a pandemic, but he could never have anticipated how literal that tape would be. Proposed traffic flow patterns in hand, he paces the office pretending he is Amanda Knopf, then Paul Rodriguez, then Fei Wei. Does the flow make sense for everyone? He marks out conflicts and changes on the floor with a bold red X of tape.

 

As he moves about the office, he thinks about the Hamilton location. The 10-storey building comes with its own set of logistical challenges: three elevators, narrow stairways, multiple tenants, a high-traffic lobby, washrooms with controlled access. The return to office plan will be much less straightforward than the Kitchener location.

 

Later he will check in with Leadership—they’ve been meeting almost daily for the past six weeks to discuss the company’s next steps. Then he’ll need to circle back with Jy, AEC, Enterprise Technology, Human Resources, and Business Development. Just as the to-do list starts to shrink, it surges again for everyone.

 

Calling this an operational exercise is an understatement. Since March it has been simultaneously a sprint and a marathon. With a steady stream of information and hodge-podge restrictions rolling in from regulatory bodies, the ground is forever shifting underfoot. But one thing has always been certain – the safety of the team comes first.

 

When Ontario announced the Declaration of Emergency on March 17, 2020, the path forward was crystal clear for leadership. “We decided we're working from home,” said Mark. “That's the best and safest place for all our staff, and that's where we need to be. Period.”

 

Transitioning a staff of over 200 to remote work while maintaining a high level of service is a feat that requires careful thought, planning, and ideally, time. In the early days of COVID-19, time was not on anyone’s side. “There was a lot of pressure on everyone to make the right decisions, and there were tons to be made,” Mark explained. “There was a gravity to the decisions we had to make, with the potential to impact our business. Collectively we wanted to make sure we insulated our staff as best as we could from it.”

 

So how do you plan for the unprecedented? “You don’t navigate that amount of thinking without a team, I’ll tell you that,” Mark laughed. “I very quickly drafted Jy and said, Remember that little line on the bottom of your job description that says other duties as assigned? Tag, you’re it. This is going to be unlike anything you've ever done before.”

 

As staff settled into a new routine from home, working groups from across the company banded together to absorb any turbulence and minimize the wake for the rest of the organization. “It was a time full of emotion and stressors that were new to everyone. We were all trying to navigate maintaining a healthy business in a new climate, and at the same time, work from home and fulfill our family roles as partners and parents. It was absolute madness that stretched from very, very early starts to very, very late ends to the days,” Mark reflected. “But there was a real sense, too, of locking arms.”

 

As summer rolled into fall, staff began successfully transitioning back to a reimagined office equipped with directional arrows, increased cleaning protocols, reduced capacity, and a five-page COVID safety plan. “A key part of the success of the plan has been connecting back with staff. It's a continuous improvement thing. Everything evolves and we need to make sure that we check back in to see what’s working and refine as needed,” Mark explained.

 

“[The pandemic] has been a real testament to our ability to adapt and be flexible, and to meet a challenge head-on and actually thrive,” Mark offered.

It is now February. As mandated, the offices are dormant, and staff resume their work from home routine. While the desks are empty, what does remain is a deep sense of optimism and gratitude.

 

“It has been quite an experience. I am thankful for the opportunity it has provided us to learn how resilient we are. We have recognized a need to find a balance, when the time is right, to have the best of both worlds because I think it makes us better and stronger. As I look forward, I think about the opportunities that this learning has presented us. We need to make the best of it.”

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Parisa Fazeli

 

Parisa Fazeli was an engineer long before she knew what the term meant. As a child, she would collect the discarded matchboxes from the family’s gas stove and pack them with soil from the backyard. Next, a splash of water before stowing them away to dry. “In my head I was making bricks, hoping someday I would have enough to build a little house for my dolls,” said Parisa. “I never wanted to be a doctor or a teacher. I always knew I would like to be someone who does something in a building.”

 

Many years later, Parisa enrolled in the Civil Engineering program at Buali-Sina University in Hamedan, Iran, graduating in 2011. Shortly thereafter, she was ranked in the top 3% of participants in her master’s degree entrance exam and was admitted to the Building and Housing Research Center-Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology in Tehran. Parisa completed her Master of Science in Civil Engineering in 2014 and was able to apply her thesis research in friction dampers to real-world project work during her first co-op placement. By all accounts, she was on track for success in her field.

 

In 2015, Parisa’s career journey became unexpectedly complex when her husband decided to pursue international schooling. “I hadn’t planned to come to Canada, so I didn’t know anything about English,” she explained. Parisa spent her first two years learning the language and studying for a proficiency exam. “I was always told that if I want to find a job in my field, I have to have a Canadian degree. So once I had my certificate in language, I was desperately looking for a position and considered maybe another master’s degree or a PhD so I could find a job.”

 

In a chance social gathering, a friend mentioned they had a connection with a long-time WalterFedy employee and offered to make an introduction. Soon after, Parisa began job shadowing with the structural engineering team two days a week. What started off as an opportunity to observe life at an engineering firm within the Canadian context soon turned into a part-time employment offer. “It happened really organically,” said Russ Parnell, Senior Engineer at the firm. “She was always asking for more involvement and showed initiative to invest in herself. I have a lot of respect for Parisa’s willingness to take on challenges and what she’s overcome to get here. We’re growing because of her skills and unique background. She just needed encouragement to believe in herself.”

 

“I love my coworkers and I love the environment,” said Parisa. “I feel very comfortable talking to my leader when I have a question, and I know they aren’t judging me. Everyone is supportive and helpful.”

 

Now a full-time designer on the structural team, Parisa has worked on projects for the Waterloo Region District School Board, University of Guelph, and Conestoga Cold Storage. “Conestoga Cold Storage was my first real job. Over the past 20 years WalterFedy has done many projects for Conestoga Cold Storage, so the work is fairly typical,” she said. “But when I went on site and looked at it from the outside, and saw the 140-foot building, I thought – wow that is massive! At first, you are terrified, but then you feel really proud.”

 

For Parisa, the best designs bring the whole project team together. “Maybe you are sizing a beam or a column. It is easy because you have a formula, so you just calculate a number. But how is it going to work with the rest of the design?” she says. “When you collaborate with other disciplines, it makes a huge difference. You have to think about how you are going to affect other parts of the design as well, and how [contractors] are going to build it,” she said.

 

When she’s not collaborating with her team, you can find Parisa channeling her creativity into baking and world cuisines.

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As employers increasingly embrace remote work opportunities, new employees are searching for ways to make their transition to a virtual setting more comfortable. We connected with Esther Kong, Human Resources Generalist, to find out how new remote employees can make a stellar impression, build strong relationships, and hit the ground running. Not only is Esther a leader in recruitment, she is also settling into a new role while working from home. Here are some of her strategies:

 

Get to know your tools

From the outset, identify what technology and tools are essential to your daily operations. Then, ask if there is anything you have at home that can supplement. In the early days, take some time to familiarize yourself with essential programs. If you receive training on special applications, demonstrate you understand how they work. “Share tips, tricks, best practices or shortcuts,” says Esther. “This shows the team they have properly prepared you, and it's one less thing for them to worry about on top of their daily workload.”

 

Identify top priorities

When you begin your new role, make a point of identifying immediate priorities with your manager and determining where you can have the most meaningful impact. “Whatever your team’s needs were before the pandemic are likely different now,” Esther explains. “Understand what the priorities are now, because they may be different from what was initially discussed or laid out in the job description.”

 

Set or take advantage of regular check-ins

Building rapport with colleagues can be tricky without the luxury of proximity and collaboration. If your team holds regular check-ins, schedule your day around it. “Now more than ever, it's important to be present in those meetings,” says Esther. “Even if we can't physically be around each other, we should still maintain close social contact. These meetings offer valuable facetime with your coworkers even though it's online.”

 

A good way to integrate yourself into a team is by sharing anecdotes at the beginning of these check-ins to help break the ice. “You find out all these interesting facts about your coworkers, so they are no longer just a person on the screen to you. It helps you humanize each other,” she adds.

 

Ask questions

Asking a lot of questions is also a strong way to demonstrate commitment to quality. “It’s important to ask clarifying questions to fully understand what needs to be done. It’s always better to take a bit of extra time on the front end rather than jumping in, guns blazing, and having to fix things on the back end,” she says. “This shows others you want to do a good job.”  Your leader will appreciate your initiative, and desire to do something right the first time, and this opens the door for communication for the future. 

 

Be intentional

Being intentional in your interactions with colleagues is important to establishing yourself as a professional. You can show intention by being punctual for meetings and coming equipped with an agenda or meeting notes. “This demonstrates to people that you are someone who takes their work seriously and is respectful of other people's time,” says Esther. She also infuses intention in her daily interactions. “If I reach out to someone, I give them a reason to collaborate with me and try to add value,” she says. “For instance, if I'm sending an instant message to someone, I don’t start by saying hi and wait for the person to answer. It’s a time waster. I want to get my point across in the first message,” she explains. “We're all going through the same thing right now working remotely. Everyone's getting pinged with emails, instant messages, calls, and video chats. I try to be mindful of that.”

 

Welcome feedback

If there’s a sure-fire way to garner respect from your colleagues, it’s acknowledging the value they have to offer. Your teammates are already familiar with processes, personalities, and policies that can impact the success of your projects. A bit of this insight can help provide clarity and remove barriers unbeknownst to you. “I think it's important to establish to everyone on your team that you are respectful of their opinion and trust their expertise. This in turn also encourages further collaboration,” Esther offers. “Mutual respect is key to team dynamic.”

 

Take on some quick wins

While compliance training might not be the most exciting project on your radar, it is essential to onboarding. Tackle this essential training as soon as possible so your team can have your full and focused attention. Once that is complete, you can seek out low-hanging (but important) fruit. “Some tedious tasks that no one wants to do are really easy. Dedicate half an hour or an hour to breeze through it. That's one less thing on the list your team has to worry about.” This is an easy way to build rapport and better positions the entire team to take on priority tasks.

 

Prepare for the physical office

For many starting new roles in our current climate, the virtual work environment is a temporary arrangement. Give yourself a leg up by creating a daily routine that is transferrable. “I don't want that shock to the system, so I've still been getting up early in the morning, going out for my morning runs, getting showered and dressed as though I'm going to work, and keeping my work area organized” Esther says. “The less transitioning you need to do once you return to the office, the better.”

 

Esther also recommends creating a digital parking lot of activities suitable for when your return to the office. “This helps you plan and prioritize what to do once you’re back in a physical setting.”

 

While starting a new role in a virtual environment might seem intimidating, remember that your employer wants you to succeed just as much as you do. If you follow the guides above, embrace the new challenges a virtual setting brings, and have the courage to ask for help along the way, your effort won’t go unnoticed.

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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. 

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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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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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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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A career in sustainability can take many forms. Some work in environmental law or advocacy, and others focus on research and development for new technologies. For resident sustainability expert Marlen Aleman, her niche is Asset and Facilities Management (AFM).  

 

Marlen has spent many years serving as a sustainability consultant, helping thousands of square feet of real estate across Ontario earn varying degrees of sustainability certification. A LEED Green Associate and certified Facilities Management Professional, Marlen combines her knowledge of building operations and building best practices to help clients achieve their sustainability goals. 

 

“Everything we do in AFM has to do with sustainability,” said Marlen. “We are helping to maximize building performance and lifecycle, so rather than decommissioning a building and start a new construction, we help our clients in the planning to keep their assets in good condition and up to standards. We can also help with operational strategies that impact energy consumption, but also the productivity and wellbeing of the occupants. It’s creating a sustainable environment and I am very proud of that.” 

 

Marlen and her team work closely with clients to help them map out plans to increase their sustainable practices and earn recognition for the strides they have made. Often times, this takes the form of guiding partners through programs like Buildings Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), which has a comprehensive rating system that helps owners of existing buildings achieve certification and recognition for their practices on an operational level. This means taking a critical look at energy, water, air, comfort, health and wellness, custodial practices, purchasing, waste, site, and stakeholder engagement. 

 

“The early integration of sustainability considerations is key for the success of any project. Our work helps our clients make informed decisions that have a positive impact in their bottom line, the environment and the well being of building occupants,” said Marlen. 

 

Whether you have an established building, or are exploring a new build, there are numerous programs available to help stimulate greener practices and design in business, including LEED, WELL, BOMA, and NetZero. While more and more businesses are striving to create positive change in their buildings and work culture, many are still working up the courage to take the next step.  

 

“One of the biggest misconceptions about sustainability is that it is expensive,” said Marlen. In fact, it is more accessible than you might think. “Some very important green strategies and activities cost very little,” she explained. The best place to start is with the people in your organization, and this approach is virtually free. With the implementation of awareness programs, tenants can start making changes to their habits that greatly reduce their environmental impact. “Green building systems are most effective if building occupants know how they work. That’s where every sustainability approach should begin.” 

 

Outside of her role as an Asset Management Specialist, Marlen actively participates in conversations on green living. She is a key member of WalterFedy’s Sustainable Advisory Committee, which was developed to facilitate ongoing change within the organization to reduce environmental impact. She also volunteers with Women in Renewable Energy and provides mentorship to young professionals looking to jumpstart their career in green industry.  Her motivation is simple: “The planet is the only home we have. I want my son to grow up in a healthy environment and enjoy nature. Sustainability is a way of living. It isn’t just a standalone project. It is a wide cultural change that needs to happen and can happen.” 

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