Toronto firm awarded $3.3M contract for Veterans Affairs renovation

An architecture firm from Toronto will do the design work for a major renovation to the Daniel J. MacDonald building, the head office of the Veterans Affairs Canada in downtown Charlottetown.

Design work to begin immediately for Charlottetown building

There has not been a major renovation of the Daniel J. MacDonald Building since it opened in 1984. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

An architecture firm from Toronto will do the design work for a major renovation to the Daniel J. MacDonald building, the head office of Veterans Affairs Canada in downtown Charlottetown.

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey announced Thursday morning the $3.3-million contract was awarded to NORR Architects and Engineers.

The renovations will include reduction of the greenhouse gases emitted by the building. Mechanical and electrical systems in the building will be replaced.

"This building was put into service in 1985, it's about halfway through its useful life," Casey said. "The Government of Canada has a goal of reducing its greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050, so environmental sustainability in all of the key systems here will be a part of it." 

Casey said the renovations will involve updates to the entire building, from its heating and ventilation systems to cosmetic fixtures. 

'Vote of confidence'

Casey said the government has not yet determined the overall cost for the construction phase of the project.

"The actual cost for the renewal and the construction is something that will flow out of the design work," Casey said. "It isn't fixed, it will be determined in part by this initial work."

'The good folks of Charlottetown can take a look at this and say, this will secure the future of the Department of Veteran Affairs here in Charlottetown, and that's exactly the intention,' says Sean Casey. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

He said this will be a substantial project and he anticipates the final construction budget will be in the tens of millions. 

"The announcement today is a huge indicator and vote of confidence in the Department of Veterans Affairs remaining in Charlottetown," Casey said. "The good folks of Charlottetown can take a look at this and say, this will secure the future of the Department of Veteran Affairs here in Charlottetown, and that's exactly the intention." 

'Local connection' 

Casey also announced that the Island-based company Studio Brehaut Architecture will be the local partner on the project. 

Lorin Brehaut, the owner of Studio Brehaut Architecture, says it's going to be a three-year project. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Lorin Brehaut, the owner of Studio Brehaut Architecture, said his company will be representing NORR on the Island throughout the construction phase of the project. 

"It's going to be an honour," Brehaut said. "We love all projects, big or small, and this will be one of the biggest projects we'll be on — it will be a three-year project."

Increasing capacity

Casey said the primary focus of the renovation is to modernize the building, but the new design will also aim to increase workspaces to accommodate the growing number of staff in the building. 

"Part of the design will see an increase in the capacity of the building to about 900, which is about double what it was when it opened," Casey said. 

The MacDonald building opened in 1984, and was designed to house 450 staff. There are now 750 working at the location.

The design work will begin immediately, with construction expected to start in January 2020. The project is due to be complete in the fall of 2023.

With files from Brittany Spencer