July 21, 2006
Centre blends natural world with high tech
No stranger to the Ontario Science Centre, Buttcon Ltd. is helping transform the facility’s front yard into an interactive outdoor venue that combines native trees and a wetland with walkways, interactive experiences, installation art and an outdoor forum.
The Concord-based firm, which acted as construction manager on the Weston Family Innovation Centre, the cornerstone of the Agents of Change transformation project, now is working on the TELUSCAPE project.
The estimated $2.8 million project is scheduled for completion late next month.
The 51,000-square-foot venue sits on the site of the Centennial Fountain, which once contained a 100-jet fountain designed by architect Raymond Moriyama. A portion will remain as a symbol of the centre’s heritage as a Centennial project.
“TELUSCAPE is the first experience all visitors will encounter when they arrive at the centre and will form their last impression when they leave,” says Lesley Lewis, the centre’s CEO.
The theme of the outdoor educational space is “Question the Landscape.”
The central location is the Spiral Plaza, which provides full access to all key features and functions as a transition between the city and the centre. In the spiral’s centre, visitors will discover FUNtain, an interactive sound sculpture.
It will function like a musical instrument using water; it is played like a flute as visitors block various holes to create different notes.
Other major TELUSCAPE features include:
• A 60-square-metre Wetland pond surrounded by a naturalized area planted with native grasses and wetland species that will evolve over time as plant species mature.
• TELUSCAPE Forum, a new program and event space, which will be carved out of the landscape and shaped by a grassy hill with seating for more than 350.
• Climbing Spheres, a set of three large spheres which appear to be scooped out of the east wall of the forum and will be sized for children to climb.
• Water Maze, which will invite visitors to navigate the maze without getting wet. One-metre-high water-jet walls will shoot up in changing patterns, encouraging participants to stop, observe and plan a dry route through the maze.
Landscape features include fibre-optic reeds interspersed with real vegetation. The area also will be energized by large solar-powered trees.
“It’s a big landscape job with some really neat elements,” says Buttcon project manager Marc Ferguson. His firm was awarded a construction management contract in April.
“We’re using some artificial turf, all sorts of patterned, textured concrete and some interesting lighting.”
Key trades include Dodaro Landscaping Services, UCC Group, which is constructing concrete walkways, curbs and retaining walls, electrical contractor OZZ Corp., C & T Reinforcing Steel Co. (1987) Ltd., Royal Mechanical, London Paving and American Excavating.
“The mechanical and electrical trades are big when you have fountains and water mazes,” Ferguson said.
He said the Agents of Change project has posed its share of construction challenges — among them site logistics and safety.
The Science Centre has remained open during the makeover.
“When you consider the majority of the visitors are children, then you have to be especially careful,” Ferguson said.
The Ontario Science Centre hired MacDonald Hart & Associates Ltd. to act as its project managers on the Agents of Change project.
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