Designing comfort and efficiency for a challenging industrial environment at Site C
Fort St. John, BC
BC Hydro wanted to make sure its employees had a safe, inclusive and efficient place to work at their Site C facility, planned to annually generate 5,100 gigawatt hours of clean, renewable electricity. Located in northeastern BC, near the city of Fort St. John, they asked our design team to create an operations facility and emergency response building their staff could call home.
Manager, Design at BC Hydro
Our design solution had to accommodate a wide range of non-complimentary tasks and functions within a very small space, including mechanical, carpentry and electrical shops, painting booth, telecommunication rooms, ‘always-on’ post-disaster control room, lunchroom and offices. Further, acoustics, building and industry-specific safety codes had to be considered.
BC Hydro wanted their employees to be productive, safe and satisfied with their new workplace, so we undertook an intensive research and consultation phase to understand their design needs. We immersed ourselves into the everyday realities of the client and multi-stakeholder consultants which included seeking input and feedback from workers stationed at two nearby BC Hydro generating facilities. In doing so, we uncovered the site's full potential for efficiency, safety and employee collaboration.
Creating spaces that enabled collaboration was key to our design goals. While accommodating the project's space constraints, meeting rooms with movable-wall systems and catering spaces were designed, along with a comfortable kitchen and gathering spaces, to encourage connection within the team. Multiple video monitors were included in key locations throughout the project so that facility personnel could constantly track important developments during the workday.
By placing the generating equipment maintenance and shop spaces at the bottom level of the operations building, and the quiet office spaces at the top, we made it easier for trades personnel to move heavy equipment components to and from the maintenance and shop spaces. We were also able to provide a connection in all shop and office spaces to the breathtaking scenery with large windows facing downstream.
The dam’s permanent upstream fishway, which is a trap and haul facility, was designed with the help of a specialist fishway design consulting firm. We incorporated this natural element into our design and used the architecture to facilitate an experiential connection to it.
The maintenance and operations personnel at Site C can look forward to an enhanced workplace experience within a structure designed to last 100 years. Working with BC Hydro’s engineering team, we facilitated a deeper understanding of how different disciplines can intermesh — and we designed spaces to bring those collaborations to life.
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