Philip joined HH Angus in 2006 and is currently a Senior Electric Engineer and Project Manager in our Technology Division. 

What’s your favourite thing about working at HH Angus?

I like the diverse projects and diverse clients. I enjoy the work. It is satisfying to see things get built. I enjoy the travel aspect – working all over the place, different clients, different things.

Where do you travel for work?

So far, I’ve traveled around North America.

How do you personally contribute to design and construction?

I am the Lead Electrical Engineer on a number of projects, responsible for design, project management, and delivery of our design to our clients. We are often the prime consultant on projects, the head consultant. We retain an architect or a structural engineer directly,  or select them on behalf of the client. In those cases, the client retains them but we manage overall the process. We also manage the procurement of equipment and services for the client.

How has working here helped you grow in your career?

It was the first job I had out of school, so I’ve grown quite a bit in my career.

“I've enjoyed diverse opportunities being able to work on multiple projects, with multiple clients, with multiple diverse models.”

 

Why did you want to become an engineer?

I was interested in technology and, I thought it would be interesting to have a career at that field.

What project are you most proud of?

I really felt good about the Sunnybrook High Voltage Emergency Project. That was one I designed and was the Electrical Lead. It was a project where we took a completely functional hospital and rebuilt their emergency power plant without compromising emergency power to the hospital the bew plant was built within the footprint of the exisiting plant. It was a very challenging project, which involved multiple phases of construction. 

What are some of the things about the company that you really like?

I like the dedication over the years to the library collection. I thought that was pretty great. Some of the people who work in Records Management have a background in library science. The company has been dedicated to the knowledge behind engineering we have books from 20s. It speaks to the longevity of the company. Over the years, people have accumulated technical standards, books, journals and things pertinent to older systems and technologies. A lot of places don’t have a comparable knowledge base.

When you started with the company, did you have a time when a senior staff member helped you along? 

When I started, they used to pair the new grads with an inspector and send them to construction projects. I spent probably 2 to 3 weeks doing that. You got to see the practical aspects of construction which puts a lot of things in perspective when you are designing. For me, that had a lasting impact. Additionally, I was fortunate that I had some projects that went into construction when I started. They had already been designed and I was tasked with looking after the contract administration. Seeing other people’s designs, how they were being built, some of the issues that come up, was very useful.

What inspires you?

Family, friends and doing good work. 

What trends or technologies on the horizon excite you most?

I always tell younger staff, one of the best things ever invented was the digital camera. It may not seem all that great now because it is so prevalent. Also PDFs. When I started, the majority of submittals were paper. We would receive paper submittals, we would do our reviews, we would staple our reviews to them and courier it out. You’d do a large project with a wealth of information, and you would no longer have it at your fingertips because it was all on paper, which is now stored off site. But, nowadays, it’s all PDFs. You can keep a copy and everything is readily available. Same with digital cameras. Somebody can go to site and take photos of what they are working on. You’ll always have that reference to go back to later: “oh, this is what I did on the last job. Maybe it didn’t go exactly as planned – let’s do it a bit differently this time”. Today, the technology gives you accessibility that you didn’t have in the past.

What skills or traits helped you advance in your career from the new grad stage?

I always believed in making the product you are selling better in order to be more competitive. Have diverse experience. Obviously, getting licenses and certifications speak to a broader experience and broader knowledge base. When you are selling services, you want to make sure the clients understand they are paying for experience, for somebody who does this for a living. They don’t have people on staff to do the work, so they are hiring us. 


 

Sarah joined HH Angus in 2012 and is currently an Electrical Engineer and Manager in our Technology Division.

Did you spend a co-op term at HH Angus?

No, I joined as a new graduate from the University of Waterloo and this was my first full time job.

What is your favourite thing about working at HH Angus?

It is definitely the people. I graduated from University of Waterloo and it is such a competitive environment; then I came here and I expected the exact same thing. But it turned out to be more open and you are allowed to ask questions, and there’s an open door policy. There is a huge learning curve around things we were not taught at school, but the learning curve is achievable. It’s about 5 years – it’s long, but it’s achievable.

How do you personally contribute to design and construction?

It’s the attitude you bring, which is something that the culture here fosters. You don’t focus on the problem – you focus on a solution. And that’s why we retain clients, that’s why we get hired over and again. That’s why our reputation is what it is. But it’s top down from Rod [Mons, Division Director – Technology]; you always focus on the best solution possible for the client. 

How has working at HHA helped you grow in your career?

First of all, it introduced me to the construction industry. I knew a little bit, not from school but from my co-op term. I spent two terms with two different consulting firms focused on commercial work in Waterloo, Ontario. Working on mission critical sites at HH Angus in the Technology Division – I didn’t know anything about that sector and it opened up a whole different side of consulting.

In terms of how it helped me grow in my career – it has been my career. HH Angus has taught me everything from how to conduct a meeting to how to maintain relationships in the construction industry. Because with the clients that we are working with, you have to be able to maintain that relationship while working on technologically challenging projects.

So you have shifted from the technical side of things to managing clients and working with the constructors and getting things built?

I think it goes hand in hand. In the Technology Division, we supervise mission critical shut downs, and the unique thing about shut downs is that everyone’s there – our clients are there, some of whom are alumni from HH Angus, so you have to be technically knowlegable and be able to repond to situations, especially during the shut down. It pushes you, that’s why the learning curve is five years. You have to learn as you are trying to manage all of it. So, it helps to be an all-rounder, I think. To be able to communicate well – I think that’s the most important part.

“I like that it is not a boring 9 to 5 job. And every day is different. Every single project I do is different and it’s been seven years. That’s unique.”

 Why did you want to become an engineer?

In high school, I started to realize that I liked math and science and solving problems. And my Dad is an engineer – so that kind of helps. Once I realized that I didn’t want to go into theory, I wanted to go into practical applications. And it built from there, into choosing this industry, because I am more of a visual learner and I think that helps – we work with drawings, visual things and we get to build things.

What are some of the projects that you are most proud to be involved in and why?

There are multiple projects that I am proud of because each was challenging at a given point in my career.

The first project I did was with a financial client and was a big one, basically replacing half the electrical distribution of the building. It was very complex and it was my first introduction to a high-budget project. I am proud of it because I came out of it alive! 

What helpful experience did you get from a senior staff member when you started?

I think the most helpful thing that the Technology Division has a tradition of doing, is bringing new grads to shut downs. Because it just helps you learn so fast. Mike McReynolds did it for me when I first started. And I took a new grad I was mentoring to an overnight shut down on his second day. It’s like a trial by fire. Obviously, he wasn’t given any responsibility, it was more of a ‘let’s shadow and watch’. When you go to a shut down or a site visit, it puts everything in context.

Outside the technical things, what are some of the things that you love about HH Angus?

Every time you come in here, it’s a very relaxed atmosphere. Which you don’t necessarily expect. Especially given our industry – many places have more of a formal corporate culture. You know it’s a collaborative process. And when you ask for help, it’s there.

What advice would you give someone applying to HH Angus?

I would say, if you do get in, it’s a great place to start, because you get exposed to a lot of things that you wouldn’t experience at elsewhere. The opportunities are endless. But you do have to be prepared to work hard. Because if you want to move ahead, that’s required. And again, the construction industry is such, you don’t learn this at school, it’s not taught, especially for electrical. So it should be communicated that it's  okay that you know nothing at that point.

What inspires you?

I think on the day to day basis, I get inspired by problems. There shouldn’t be a problem we are not able to navigate. And when you work with the people that I do, no one looks at the problem; actually, it’s the attitude to the problems, again, because no one looks at a problem and gets angry at it. You don’t fear bringing a problem to somebody. I think the fact that issues are received so well and that I like solving problems – it’s a combination of those things. 

What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

I like that it is not a boring 9 to 5 job. And every day is different. Every single project I do is different and it’s been seven years. That’s unique.And because the players change, the expectations change. So you are like, “How will I handle that this time?”

What are technologies or trends in the industry that excite you?

With Smart Buildings, there is Wi-Fi communication that will affect electrical distribution. I was at a conference in Texas and they were using Wi-Fi to get a lot of information there for massive electrical equipment.  And you have 3D printing.  All of that is going to push the construction industry into a new era, especially combined with mobile technology.  There is a part of our industry that is very conservative and very old school, because a building is a building, but there is a way to modernize it now.

Do you have any secret talents people don’t know about?

I like cooking – it s a hobby. 

If you could change one thing how buildings are designed or constructed, what would it be?

I think the process could be more collaborative. I would like it if all the different types of teams, different types of engineers, like civil and structural engineers, could come together and see what the others do. Before, I had a hard time reading structural drawings.  You only understand once you’ve made a mistake, and they are, like, “no, you can’t do that”. If it was more collaborative and I could have sat down with a structural engineer who explained “this is what I need and this is why I need it”, I feel this would improve the process.

Do you have a dream vacation spot?

Italy – because of the food! It’s a beautiful country!

Lighting in healthcare centres requires balance between aesthetics and functionality. The right illumination is essential for medical staff to perform their duties and, as growing consensus suggests, aid in patients’ recovery. Bradford Keen speaks to architects and lighting specialists working across three continents about light’s healing properties.

From ancient Egyptians worshiping the sun god Ra to a parent parting the bedroom curtains of a moping teenager, light intuitively feels right. It is able to create perspective and alter moods. When intuition is verified by science, we feel vindicated by our innate wisdom.

Light has long been manipulated in effective design, but it is now permeating healthcare centres too. Gone are the days of bright, blue lights bearing down from above with the promise of sterility. Instead, the shifting ethos, backed by medical studies, has evolved to focus on how natural and artificial light can give patients a healthy glow.

“About five to ten years ago, healthcare design had a lot more of a clinical and institutional feel,” says Philip Schuyler. “People used really high colour temperatures – over 4,000k.” The electrical engineer at HH Angus explains that the industry now seeks to create a soothing environment mimicking someone’s home or a communal space, while balancing aesthetics, cost efficiency and functionality.

HH Angus and CanonDesign have undertaken a mammoth project. Spanning two blocks in downtown Montreal, the 21-storey Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) subsumes three existing facilities – Hôtel Dieu, Hôpital St Luc and Hôpital Notre-Dame – in what will be one of North America’s largest academic medical centres, spanning three million square feet. Phase one of the project, which includes the hospital and ambulatory building, was completed recently, while phase two’s office building is set for 2021. The healthcare district is set to teem  with social activity, boasting an amphitheatre,
natural green spaces and one of the country’s largest displays of artwork.

The direct health benefits of lighting – improved mood, reduced hospital stay, lower mortality rates, among others – are proven, as is light’s ability to help create a sense of shared calm for patients and their loved ones.

“Lighting makes people feel a lot more receptive to treatment,” Jocelyn Stroupe, director of healthcare interiors at CanonDesign, says. “Often, healthcare encounters are filled with anxiety. We want to be sure anyone who enters the building feels a sense of comfort.”

This mindset of making hospitals communal and homely spaces is relatively new but  gaining credence among architects.

“People usually go into healthcare facilities with humility,” says architect Joaquin Perez-Goicoechea. “They are searching for something; they need support and, if the building can help them achieve this, it brings satisfaction to all of us.”

This was the weighted starting point for the cofounder of AGi architects when designing the Hisham Al Alsager Cardiac Center in Kuwait. “People with chronic diseases require constant contact with doctors,” says Perez- Goicoechea. Their loved ones often spend many hours at their side or in the facility, which motivated the architect to design the centre as a place for social cohesion. “Light is extremely important for this. It must be a sanctuary,” he adds.

With red aluminium panels, the cardiac centre is designed and coloured – at the behest of the medical staff – to resemble a heart. Its large windows, on the north facade, open up to the dazzling blue of Kuwait Bay.

The multiple vertical skylights maximise natural light. Pollution and dust dictated their positioning. Placed flat and horizontally, they would have gathered too much grime, rendering them useless even with a stringent maintenance plan.

Lighting is a powerful “abstract and immaterial architectural tool,” says Perez-Goicoechea. “The issue is how you see the space as a structure on a sequence, which is identified by different lighting experiences depending on the use or character you want to give to that space.

“If you are going to be sitting in a waiting area for half a day, because this is the reality, you don’t want to be sitting under white, fluorescent lights. You want to be under warm ambient lighting that makes it cosier; it frames the space.”

The diffused ambiance of CHUM

AESTHETICS VERSUS FUNCTIONALITY

This is where striking a balance is essential. “It needs to be a safe environment,” Stroupe says, “and lighting has to be designed so staff can perform their job without issue.” With many hard surfaces in healthcare facilities, eliminating glare is just one necessary consideration as it will help reduce fatigue on the eyes.

It’s not only the staff, of course, but patients too. “They are often in their rooms or being transported through corridors lying on their backs,” Stroupe says. “We’d like to avoid having something in the ceiling shining in their eyes and causing discomfort.”

Nowhere is this balance between comfort and function more important than at the Dommartinlès-Toul, a short and long-term residential facility in France for people with epilepsy. While there aren’t any operational procedures being carried out, staff need to perform regular functions such as administering medication. The importance of this cannot be overstated, as was seen in a study from the early 1990s, where pharmacists’ prescription-dispensing error rate was heavily dependent on their workspaces being sufficiently lit.

A more pressing factor for epileptics is that stress – often noise and light – can be a major trigger for seizures.

“We concentrated on soft materials,” says Atelier Martel’s co-founder, Marc Chassin. The architect implemented sound absorption materials and low, non-aggressive beam lighting. The firm worked with two artists on the project to add gentle touches such as shallow, sphered indents on the external facade to pay homage to the tablet from around 600BC, considered the first written record of epileptic symptoms. Internally, a tapestry of wool acts as a centrepiece to create warmth and comfort.

“This attention to detail is very important for the people who live there,” he says. “In the bedrooms, we have really big windows that open widely, making the space feel larger, almost like a terraced area.”

A UK study from 2013 showed that patients’ length of stay in hospital was reduced by 7.3 hours per 100lux increase of daylight and, in 1998, a study of patients in a cardiac facility’s intensive-care unit found mortality rates were higher in dimly lit rooms.

An earlier study, published in Science in 1984, found patients in rooms with windows facing trees recovered 8.5% faster and required less pain medication than those with views of a brick wall.

At CHUM, there are multiple outside areas. Beyond the obvious benefit of being a place to breathe in revitalising air, they were also designed for those inside the building. “We wanted to provide people a green and healing view,” Stroupe says. “It is a very tight urban site with amazing views of the city, but this is a little more intimate.”

Lit naturally during the day and benefitting from artificial light spilling out from the inside of the building in the evening, Schuyler says they took a minimalist approach for the terraces. “There is very little specialist lighting in those terrace spaces,” he says, “but they were supposed to be more natural and comfortable.”

When natural and artificial light shine in perfect choreography, architects manage to create a “diffused ambiance”, says Perez-Goicoechea, where different sources of light react to alter the perception of space.

Studies have shown that daylight is not necessarily superior to artificial lighting but, rather, capitalising on a combination of the two yields the best results. At the epileptic care facility in France, Chassin says different sources of light are used but often with their origin concealed, rendering illumination a general impression rather than a location-specific function. “The idea of softness is in the architecture,” Chassin says, “but also in the technical aspects of light.”

Another essential function of light is how it empowers patients. “We gave people control  over their own lighting,” Chassin says. “It is important specifically for those with epilepsy because certain sorts of lighting and frequency can cause seizures.”

Even in situations where lighting does not directly impact a patient’s medical condition, it can afford them a greater sense of empowerment.

“Patients are in a stressful environment,” Schuyler says. “A big part of promoting wellness is being able to control their environment.”

A visitor bathes in natural light at the Dommartin-lès-Toul care home.

FIND THE WAY

In any healthcare facility, not least one the size of CHUM, clear navigation is essential. Staff need to find their way between departments, patients have to go for tests and therapy, and visitors wish to locate their loved ones with ease.

“Every encounter has to be understandable and clear,” Stroupe says. “The wayfinding aspect is immensely important and lighting plays a big role in how we can emphasise the passage of travel for people in this facility. Lighting needs to work to support the architectural design.”

The navigational aspect plays a huge role in epileptic patients’ comfort and orientation. In the aftermath of a seizure, patients will be muddled and confused. Using light, and external contextual cues such as the courtyards and trees outside, helps them reorient themselves, offering much needed succour.

Focusing on the human condition, architects can ensure lighting is used in healthcare centres to make the work of medical staff easier and more efficient, but also help improve the physical and psychological welfare of its patients. There may no longer be a need to invoke the power of Ra, but the benefits of light remain integral to human well-being.

Leaf Review Magazine
January 2017

The Toronto Zoo constructs a new Wildlife Healthcare Facility

The Toronto Zoo is Canada’s premier zoo and home to over 5,000 animals, including invertebrates and fish, representing 460 species from a variety of geographical regions around the world. Encompassing approximately 710 acres, the Toronto Zoo is Canada’s largest zoo and is divided into seven zoogeographic regions, ranging from the Americas, to Africa, Australasia and Eurasia.

The campus includes numerous support facilities dedicated to animal care, operations, maintenance and veterinary services. With the existing veterinary facilities dating back to 1974, the Toronto Zoo recognized the need for redevelopment and expansion. The mandate for the new Wildlife Health Centre is to provide a state-of-the-art facility for veterinary services, that will further the Toronto Zoo’s commitment to wildlife health, nutrition, species survival research, conservation and education.

Planning for the new centre commenced in 2011 with Diamond Schmitt Architects, in collaboration with animal healthcare specialists Design Level, leading the team and preparing the architectural design for the new facility.

With a total gross area of 32,000 sq. ft., the new two-storey building would be located in the centre of the Toronto Zoo’s existing animal support complex and would be constructed in the footprint of the existing veterinary services building. Adjacent service buildings, including the existing Research, Animal Holding, Quarantine, and Conservation and Biology facilities, would connect to the new Wildlife Health Centre.

Design considerations

The functional program for the new centre would have to meet a variety of objectives, including: meeting the needs of the different animal species, taking into account diverse environmental requirements for the various habitats, providing a layout that promotes the effective delivery of ongoing healthcare services and meeting the requirements of the veterinary professionals who perform these services. Eric Lucassen, Project Architect at Diamond Schmitt, notes, “Working with the Toronto Zoo to create functional programming that supports animal healthcare, while meeting the unique habitat requirements for the various animals, involved a detailed planning process.”

The facility program for the Wildlife Health Centre is split over two floor levels and consists of animal treatment and surgical areas, diagnostic imaging, an intensive care unit, laboratories, animal holding areas, offices and support spaces, and a public viewing area. Animal holding areas are further divided into spaces for small and large animals, which require ceiling-high caging to provide safety for the staff.

Surgery and diagnostic imaging spaces are centrally located and are accessible via wider corridors to facilitate the easy transport of animals into these areas. A garage is located adjacent to the surgery area, and an electric hoist and hoist beam runs from the garage to the surgery area to help the transport of larger animals.

The majority of two-storey rooms have large clerestory (windows just below the ceiling) around the perimeter of the spaces. This architectural feature allows a significant amount of daylight to enter the interior of the building and creates the feeling of being in an open, natural environment. Laboratories and support spaces are located in close proximity with animal care areas to minimize travel distances for support services.

Mechanical considerations

Given the varying functionalities and diverse environmental requirements of the different spaces, a number of innovative applications of mechanical and electrical systems were incorporated in the building’s design. The holding area for fish and reptiles required that tropical temperatures be consistently maintained throughout the year, maintaining 100% relative humidity. Electric heat tracing cable, specifically modelled for the application by Tyco Thermal Controls, was installed in the slab to ensure that the temperature in the area would be maintained during winter months. While the electric heat tracing cable maintained a heat pad for reptiles, additional radiant floor heating was used to maintain the environment and create general floor comfort for animals.

Ventilation systems in animal care areas throughout the facility rely on a continuous 100% fresh air supply, with no return air, to ensure that contaminants and excrement are not circulated through the ventilation system. A heat recovery system was provided on the exhaust air system to increase energy efficiency. Animal surgery areas utilize a dedicated supply air system, which incorporate air change requirements and filtration comparable to the requirements for a human healthcare facility. By utilizing a separate, dedicated supply air system for surgery areas, energy efficiency is maintained in areas that require fewer air changes per hour.

Other energy efficient elements in the design included the use of low flow plumbing fixtures, roofing and landscaping features that promote heat island reduction for the site and the use of insulated glazing that provides an optimal balance between daylighting and heat transfer.

Electrical and lighting requirements

Unlike hospitals where patient care equipment is standard and there are prescribed standards for electrical circuiting requirements, animal care areas have speciality equipment items, and require multiple dedicated circuits and receptacles. Additionally, animal care areas were considered wet environments, due to the frequent washing that occurs after animals are returned to their habitats.

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles were used in these areas to maintain electrical safety. Lighting fixtures throughout the facility were selected to provide both illumination requirements for animal care and were vapour tight, to maintain infection control practices and protect luminaires from inadvertent spray during cleaning.

Occupancy sensors and multiple light switches were used throughout the facility to give users a wide range of automatic and manual lighting control, which allow lights to be turned off when there is enough daylight present through windows and clerestory.

To avoid interference with full height cages, architectural clerestories, and to minimize the likelihood of interaction with animals, overhead mechanical and electrical services were routed outside of animal care areas and confined to corridor spaces. This created several installation coordination issues that were resolved by the contractor, via the creation of detailed interference drawings during the construction phase of the project.

Nearing completion

The project was competitively tendered and awarded to Gillam Group Inc., with construction commencing in February 2015. The new building is in the final phases of construction and is scheduled to be complete during the first quarter of 2017.

Working on an animal healthcare facility designed to accommodate a variety of different species, with diverse requirements, proved to be a unique challenge.

While healthcare standards are readily available for hospital construction, there are minimal design and construction standards available for this type of animal care facility. Environmental standards established by the Canadian Council on Animal Care and general healthcare design experience contributed to the overall design.

Furthermore, involving the users throughout the project was critical in identifying the unique needs of various animal groups. Eric Lucassen notes, “Having the Toronto Zoo’s veterinary staff provide input into specific design requirements at every step of the project helped the design team develop innovative solutions to provide an enhanced animal care environment.” CCE

 

Philip Chow, P.Eng., P.E. is a senior project manager at H.H. Angus & Associates Ltd., Philip.Chow@hhangus.com

 

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our great friend and colleague, Peter Willings, Chief Engineer (Emeritus) of HH Angus and Associates.

Peter joined HH Angus in 1963 as a young engineer out of Australia.  With obvious skill and tremendous engineering knowledge and instincts, he rose steadily through the ranks to become the company’s Chief Engineer in 1987, responsible for all facets of the firm’s engineering practice, directing and advising staff engaged in the design and preparation of drawings and specifications of Mechanical and Electrical Systems, and the supervision of installations for institutional, commercial and industrial undertakings.

One of Peter’s milestone projects at HH Angus was working with Architect Rod Robbie on Toronto’s SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre).  He had previously worked with Robbie on the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. Other career highlights include winning a National Low Energy Building Design Award; the iconic Toronto Dominion Centre (shown at left); the Queen’s Park office complex; the Eaton Centre’s Dundas Tower; and a long list of hospitals, computer centres and post-secondary projects too numerous to mention.

Peter’s dedication – to engineering in general and to HH Angus and Associates in particular- is a remarkable and increasingly rare achievement. He served the firm with distinction for -  54 years, continuing to work and to make significant contributions long after his official retirement. We have been the fortunate colleagues who benefited from Peter’s insight, his innate understanding of engineering, and his vast generosity in sharing that knowledge.

He will be deeply missed.