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Therapeutic interiors for pioneering mental health care

In November 2020, the third of four phases of the largest redevelopment in Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) history were officially completed with the opening of the Crisis and Critical Care Building and the McCain Complex Care and Recovery Building.

The two new buildings boast 600,000 square feet of space and feature 235 inpatient beds as well as the only 24-hour mental health emergency department in Ontario.  The vision for this project was to create an enhanced therapeutic recovery and healing environment whilst consolidating education and clinical care to one location.

Belroc was proud to be engaged by our longstanding construction partners at PCL Constructors to work on this prestigious project, which was completed successfully despite hugely challenging conditions.  

Defining the scope at CAMH

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 was a specific requirement to demonstrate durability and value for money at every stage of the build.  As a result, PCL approached us at an early stage in the planning for this project, in order to get an accurate idea of costings. 

Located in the centre of downtown Toronto, the project was constrained by limited vehicular access and a considerable amount of traffic congestion.  Upper floors were 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.

What we did

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 utilized an epoxy-based caulk that would seal the vinyl sheet onto the wall with no gaps at the edges, to prevent removal.  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.

A flagship facility

Belroc was delighted to partner on this high-profile project which will be a real flagship for mental health across Canada.  Bruce Sonnenberg, vice-president and district manager at PCL commented: “I’d like to commend our partners and over 450 tradespeople whose commitment to safety enabled us to complete two facilities on an active hospital campus during a global pandemic, with over 1.5 million hours worked without a lost time injury.”

We were 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.

To find out more about Belroc’s work, or to discuss an upcoming project, get in touch.