The foundation is being poured on the public school board's new Education Centre, a $31.6-million project due for completion next summer.

The new headquarters of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will be a three-level complex at 50 Millwood Pl. By June, those passing by should see crews doing steelwork on the building.

With Ministry of Education funding guidelines to adhere to, the project has a strict timeline, said Melissa Cohen-White, facilities project manager.

"It's a reasonable schedule," she said. "It's tight but it's doable. You just can't allow things to slip."

Brantford firm +VG Architects is designing the building, which is 137,000 square feet over three levels. The firm is also working on a school board office in Waterloo. Buttcon Ltd. of Concord, Ont. is the construction manager.

Trustees heard plans for the Education Centre at an information meeting Monday evening. Vice-chair Robert Barlow wanted to see as many local contractors and subcontractors as possible, "especially in this city when people need work."

The board follows provincial guidelines that apply to public sector organizations such as municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals, said Don Grant, superintendent of business services.

The local nature of the contractors is one of the factors, but not the only one, Grant said.

"The school board cannot arbitrarily state that we will only accept local contract work," he said.

The new centre will incorporate a few elements from the old building at 100 Main St. W., such as the concrete frieze above the door.

It will be "inspired by the heroic modernism of your previous building and the progressive nature of your board," said Paul Sapounzi, architect with +VG.

The new building will save the board money, including cutting energy costs by about 25 per cent, Sapounzi said. These efficiencies are necessary to help pay for the construction.

"We're reducing operating costs enough to fund this building," he said. "Part of that equation is savings on energy costs."

The board briefly considered locating the new headquarters at the former Cannon Knitting Mills site downtown.

McMaster is building a new downtown health campus on the old school board site. The project, scheduled to open next summer, is on time and on budget, spokesperson Gord Arbeau said.

Recent progress:

  • The excavation on the site is finished and the backfilling is 75 per cent complete.
  • Crews have completed pouring the concrete foundation and basement walls.
  • The ground floor slab is 80 per cent complete.
  • The framing of the second floor is underway.