GIE building still on schedule despite harsh weather

Despite construction being shut down due to the ice storm, GIE building construction is on schedule. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)
Despite construction being shut down due to the ice storm, GIE building construction is on schedule. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

“If you want to work in construction, you’ve got to like being outside.”

Mark Dettweiler, director of planning, design and construction at Wilfrid Laurier University’s physical resources department remarked lightly about the recent weather impacts on the construction workers working on the new Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) Building.

The recent weather conditions in Waterloo Region, beginning with an ice storm followed by extreme cold and plenty of snow, halted construction on the building temporarily a couple weeks ago.

“We lost a couple of days just because everything gets coated with ice and you have to dig everything out,” explained Dettweiler. “Certainly one concern was safety. When everything is coated with ice you have to make sure all that ice is removed before people are walking on these elevated areas.”

He also noted that the cold limited their ability to work with concrete, as cold temperatures cause concrete to freeze before it sets, creating a structural problem.

“Really a lot of work goes into the concrete part, pouring and forming the basic bones of the building,” said Dettweiler. “People will really begin to notice as we continue to build up.”

If part of your daily routine involves travelling on that stretch of University Avenue West between Hemlock and Hazel Street, you may have noticed some notable changes in scenery over the fall term: cranes and construction workers working on erecting the foundations of what had long-appeared to be a hole in the ground and a sign promising a new building in the near future.

Construction on the GIE Building has started moving upwards, a welcome indication of progress for those hoping to be using the building as soon as the fall of 2015. The building will be home to Laurier’s School of Business & Economics and the math department upon its completion and will provide some much-needed study space for students.

(Photo by Ryan Hueglin)
(Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

Weather aside, construction has been running smoothly without any contract difficulties, according to Dettweiler.

“There is a lot involved in a construction project this size,” he said. “It has been going quite well, there haven’t been any big issues with anything unexpected.”

The only other setback that the GIE building has experienced was due to a change in design, with the original courtyard being converted to an atrium.

“That design change cost us about four months and moved the end date back a bit,” explained Dettweiler. “We had hoped it would get done a bit earlier in 2015, so that design change took away some of the slack we had.”

But despite these setbacks, Dettweiler anticipates the deadline is still an achievable reality.

“We want to deliver the building by the fall of 2015,” said Dettweiler. “That’s our goal and we are on track with that, so I don’t think anyone is too concerned at this point that we aren’t going to make it.”


Leave a Reply