University of Calgary President Terry White and other dignitaries are leaving their handprints on the new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) building.
White, Learning Minister Lyle Oberg, Calgary Varsity MLA Murray Smith, Board of Governors vice-chair Jim Lozon rolled up their sleeves and made impressions of their hands in a commemorative concrete slab that will hang in a public area of the new building when it is completed.
The concrete hands ceremony, and an accompanying hard-hat tour of the facility, celebrated the final pour of concrete for the seven-storey building.
The milestone is a significant one because concrete will play a predominant role in the decor of the building. Concrete is the finish for the building.
"There will be limited false ceilings, limited carpeting in the building," said Kevin Boyd of Ellis-Don Construction. "The whole effect is to create a non-dated building. You can look at all the university buildings and date when they were built by their appearance."
Using concrete, which has an additive in it to make it smoother than normal, as the finish added some complications to the construction of the ICT building. For example, the formwork for the concrete ceiling was specially designed so that the grooves formed identical patterns on each level.
Also, construction crews had to take more care than usual so as not to damage the floor slabs while working.
"On a regular site, guys will drop things on the floor or mark measurements on the walls because any chips or marks could be patched and then covered with carpeting or drywall," said Boyd.
Using concrete as the finish also offered the building designers an opportunity to incorporate some unique elements regarding utilities. Because there are no false ceilings to hide ducts or electrical conduits, these items become part of the decor and allow easy access. Electrical and computer cabling will hang from overhead power supports, allowing for easy and rapid repositioning.
Another unique feature of the ICT building will be its cooling system. The building is the first in North America to have radiant cooling in the floors. Cool water will run through pipes imbedded in the concrete floors to reduce the ambient temperature.
Also, the building will have a glass tower on the roof connected to the ventilation system. Solar energy will heat the air in the tower causing the air in the building’s ventilation system to rise through convection.
The ICT building also marks a return to the U of C campus of windows that open, a feature future users of the building identified as important to them.
Windows also play a role in another feature of the building. Each corridor on the upper floors will end in a window, allowing people to easily orient themselves to the outdoors.