The Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. With a dedicated staff of more than 3,000 physicians, clinicians, researchers, educators and support staff, CAMH offers outstanding clinical care to more than 34,000 patients each year. Over the past number of years, the hospital has been updating and upgrading its facilities in line with new thinking on mental health and how it is impacted by the environment in a care setting. CAMH has just completed the third phase of this extensive project, construction of the McCain Complex Care and Recovery building and the CAMH Crisis and Critical Care building. The vision for this project was to create an ‘urban village in place of an institution’ with lots of natural light, green space, views and a general sense of openness and connectedness to the wider environment.
The construction of the new CAMH facility was a P3 project, privately funded on the proviso that the facility will be leased by government for a minimum of 30 years upon completion. Therefore, there is a specific requirement to demonstrate durability and value for money at every stage of the build. The contractor for the project was PCL Construction; one of Canada’s largest general contractors and an established customer of Belroc. As they often do, PCL approached us at an early stage in the planning for this project, in order to get an accurate idea of costings. This was a very high-profile job, located in the center of downtown Toronto, with limited vehicular access and a considerable amount of traffic congestion. Upper floors were to be accessed using external elevators which further increased the complexity of scheduling deliveries to site and getting materials moved into place swiftly while being mindful of any potential danger or disruption to the public at large. In terms of the project scope, wall protection was a big priority. In addition to bed, wheelchair and foot traffic causing potential wear and tear to hospital walls, many individuals with mental illnesses are prone to compulsive or repetitive behaviours which often includes picking at wall coverings. The wall protection needed to prevent damage to the walls themselves, while being robust enough to withstand this type of manual abuse. It was also essential that if the wall covering was peeled back or snapped off, that no sharp edges would be present that might pose a harm risk. On top of all this was the requirement to create functional, practical spaces that looked more like a hotel or high-end apartment block than a hospital.
We worked very closely with PCL on this project to ensure we developed a workable solution that would answer all aspects of the brief while achieving some cost savings. One of the first issues we were able to flag up was the type of corner protection that had been specified by the architect. This was to be a flush mounted corner protection product which creates a nice architectural finish but which is very labour intensive to fit, and also very costly when fitted over a firewall, which it would have been on this job. Belroc was able to suggest a surface mounted solution that would still look great, but which offered significant cost and labour savings. We identified a suitable crash rail product that would protect walls from damage by beds and wheelchairs, while offering support to patients and visitors with mobility challenges. Finally, we were able to offer up solutions to the problem of patients picking at the wall protection sheeting by using an epoxy-based caulk that would seal the InPro onto the wall with no gaps at the edges for patients to gain purchase. We also created a sample area where the client could view mock-ups of all the proposed products, in order to get a real feel for how the finished environment would look. The architect was involved at this stage to ensure that the overall aesthetic was in keeping with the original vision of a calming, non-institutional atmosphere. Last but not least, we spent time in this phase building relationships with the project and operations teams for the job, in order to understand how we could best plan the timings for the delivery of product to site, and transportation of same using the external elevators.
Belroc was delighted to partner on this high-profile project which will be a real flagship for mental health across Canada. We are thrilled to see this project come to fruition on time in spite of an immensely challenging year, and delighted that it can begin to work for the good of Toronto’s citizens with immediate effect.