A sparkling addition to MacEwan University’s downtown Edmonton campus, the Centre for Arts and Culture will house a diverse range of fine and performing arts programs. The Centre for Arts and Culture joins the new downtown arena, Royal Alberta Museum, and Art Gallery to complete Edmonton’s downtown arts hub.

The building features a large glazed atrium to encourage collaboration between students. Polished concrete finished to a high-gloss throughout this atrium further enhances the natural light within the space. The striking use of crossed pedestrian bridges adds a unique architectural element. The acoustics were an important part of this project since the performing arts programs will be housed in this building. Special plasters and ceiling finishes limit echoes that you typically might hear in a wide open space with a concrete floor. That was important in the 415-seat main performance theater where the floors and risers of the seating area were also polished.

Desco had prior experience working with Clark Builders, the general contractor on this project, from the 2016 Concrete Polishing Project of the Year in the Educational Category at the NAIT Centre for Applied Technologies. Even though this was a schedule-driven project with incoming students in the Fall of 2017, Clark Builders coordinated all of the trades on the project effectively.

By having expertise in a wide range of concrete solutions, Desco was able to advise on issues outside of their initial scope of work. Contrasting the refined polished concrete is board-formed concrete walls throughout the space. When the general contractor noticed bleed water and other contaminants from the concrete pouring process on the walls, Desco provided both the expertise and materials to clean the walls.

When the concrete placement company ran into challenges with finishing the main atrium, a large wide open concrete slab that would be the focal point of the building, Desco provided the innovative solution to correct the floor. The finished floor had surface imperfections and was not flat enough to meet the architectural specifications. By increasing the depth of grind from a Class B, minimal aggregate exposure, to a Class D, large aggregate exposure, the contractor improved the flatness of the floor and correct surface defects.

Increasing the depth of grind was the cheaper option compared to installing a self-leveling overlay. They were careful not to remove excessive concrete since the concrete slab was post-tensioned; any damage to the post-tensioned cables could be catastrophic to the floor as well as the workers. By consistently checking the elevation of the floor throughout the process, Desco ensured the work was completed safely. Polishing pads from a wide range of manufacturers were used throughout the project based on the repairs to be completed and the final finish to be achieved.

Other surface defects and damage were repaired throughout the construction process and then blended into the adjacent polished concrete surfaces. Two of the corrections were at the two entrances to allow enough clearance for an integrated matting system. Again dealing with the threat of post-tensioned cables, Desco utilized a wide range of surface preparation equipment to remove more than an inch of concrete.

The products used were a latex-based pore filling grout, a 100% solids proprietary urethane structural tinted grout, Convergent Pentra-Sil (HD) as a densifier, and Convergent Pentra-Finish (HG) as a stain resistant sealer. The structural repair grout itself was color-matched to the floor and applied to limit streaking or color variation.

The MacEwan Centre for Arts and Culture will open to students in the fall 2017. The colorful epoxy-coated nests provide meeting areas where students of different disciplines can collaborate on creative endeavors.