“Canada’s Most Exquisite Community” to be Built using Cold-Formed Steel Framing

 iSPAN Systems - Article - Cathedraltown

The mid-rise mixed-use development underway in Markham’s Cathedraltown is experiencing success with light-gauge steel framing.

At a former Holstein farm in Markham sits the imposing 14-storey Cathedral of the Transfiguration. Under construction since 1984 with a cornerstone personally blessed by then-Pope John Paul II and adorned with a $1.2-million five-million-piece mosaic, the building is the centerpiece in a growing community affectionately named Cathedraltown.

With a design inspired by quintessential European villages, the completed neighbourhood will boast bustling shoppes, a public square and a shimmering lake. One of the final pieces of the darling subdivision will be right in the heart of Cathedraltown – The Courtyards – which has already taken the crown as “Canada’s most exquisite community”.

When complete, The Courtyards will consist of two five-storey buildings with underground parking, commercial space, and four storeys of residential living with spacious suites and outdoor terraces.

“We worked with construction manager Wilkinson Construction Services to figure out an economic way to bring the buildings into fruition,” says iSPAN Systems’ Technical Sales Representative Brandon Pettit. “We don’t just look at our own scope of work, we consider the overall building when determining the structural layout. We even consider how our structure will affect other trades, since they all work off of our structure, and need it up quickly and accurately.”

Wilkinson had previously used iSPAN’s light structural steel on their Hunt Club Terrace project in Toronto, so they knew iSPAN would be a good fit for The Courtyards project.

Cold-Formed Steel Shows Its Benefits in Action

Although there were quite a few design changes on the Cathedraltown project, in the end it was well worth it as iSPAN was able to shorten the construction schedule and find significant cost savings for their client.

Since iSPAN was involved early in the process, Wilkinson was able to reduce the structural engineer’s scope of work and save money on consulting fees. iSPAN’s in-house design team acted as a third-party consultant working alongside and coordinating with the client’s design team.

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“In this case, we started structural engineering using our TotalFraming system,” explains Pettit. “This is the complete above grade structure: wall panels, balconies, floor, roof and structural steel. The original idea of using concrete shear walls was changed to vertical steel brace frames as it proved to be more cost effective for this project.”

As the new design and engineering process advanced, the many other benefits of TotalFraming began to reveal themselves.

The Composite TotalJoist floor assembly requires no formwork, no temporary shoring and once the floor topping is poured, the previous floor is ready for mechanical and electrical trades to begin their rough-ins. The flooring system also incorporates a steel deck, so time isn’t wasted in waiting for concrete to dry. Follow-up trades can complete their work faster than ever before, and use the joists’ access holes for running their mechanical, plumbing and electrical. This compresses the critical path construction schedule and leads to earlier occupancy.

iSPAN then prefabricated the wall panels, truss system and Composite TotalJoist floor system in its production facility in Princeton, Ontario, and when vertical construction begins, will ship components to the site floor by floor. Even the balconies are built off site and shipped when needed.

Cold-Formed Steel From the Ground Up

Construction began in the shadows of the cathedral in the fall of 2019 with excavation, and continued through spring 2020 with the completion of the underground parking structure and concrete transfer slab. iSPAN was ready to begin its work in June, and although there were delays because of COVID-19, the speed of the cold-formed-steel erection will quickly help to make up for lost time.

“iSPAN’s onsite work is only just commencing, and we look forward to completing the project on time and on budget,” says iSPAN’s director of sales Dwayne Schaus. “Since our components are pre-engineered and prefabricated, our installations are completed faster than what many general contractors and developers are used to.”

Once The Courtyards opens its doors, scheduled for summer 2021, tenants will appreciate a couple of other benefits of iSPAN’s TotalFraming: high acoustic and vibration ratings between the suites and floors. These are increasingly becoming essential for those who live in close proximity with their neighbours.

iSPAN Systems - Article - Cathedraltown

Cold-Formed Steel: The Future of Building Construction Paying Homage to the Past

Although iSPAN’s Cathedraltown project won’t have a five-million-piece mosaic, and has not been blessed by the Pope (yet), from the outside you would never know that you were not in a classic European village, with its beautiful classic exterior and a highly versatile and effective structural solution at its core.

To learn more about iSPAN’s proprietary TotalFraming, and the single-source supplier’s many benefits for developers, architects, general contractors and tenants, contact iSPAN director of sales Dwayne Schauss at dwaynes@ispansystems.com or call 1-855-804-7726.


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