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60th Parallel Visitors Centre, NWT

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The Visitor’s Centre at the 60th Parallel Park is located on highway 3, entering the Northwest Territories from Alberta. It is the first point of contact for visitors entering the NWT. Working with Arctic Canada Construction as the Design-Builder, the design for the facility began in May of 2009 with construction underway that summer. Construction was completed in September, 2010.

A large high ceilinged central area provides the central organizing design element allowing for displays within this space. Steeply sloped roofs with large windows enable natural ventilation, and daylight deep into the building. This is a seasonal building and is open from spring to fall and as such exterior shutters are used to protect the widows during the winter months when the facility is closed.

Interior finishes are comprised of finish grade birch plywood, wood slat ceilings, wood cabinetry and a tiled floor. All of these surfaces are a light colour in finish as to move diffused light through the space. Exterior finishes are comprised of cementitious siding and panel as well as naturally treated wood slats. The roof is comprised of a built-up torch on roof assembly with an exterior insulation package and pre-painted metal fascia/trim. All materials were carefully chosen to withstand long winters as well as a prolonged period of time when the facility is non-operational and left vacant.

Sustainable / energy efficient design elements such as day lighting, passive ventilation, and views to the exterior were major design considerations and were exemplified in a number of ways:

  • Operable exterior windows provide exterior views as well as fresh air for visitors and staff
  • Fixed external shading devices along the West facade and large roof overhangs on South facing facade reduce the solar heat gain within the interior spaces, thereby reducing the overall cooling requirements
  • Provision for future solar panels to be in the form of "solar trees", which allows the main roof of the facility to be free of solar panels and associated brackets and therefore penetrations into the roof assembly. These "solar trees" also help create and foster awareness that the use of green technologies is indeed possible in the North.

Consultant Team:

Design / Builders: Arctic Construction Canada Ltd.

Architects: PSAV Architects Ltd.

Structural Engineers: Williams Engineering Canada Inc.

Mechanical Engineers: Williams Engineering Canada Inc.

Electrical Engineers: Williams Engineering Canada Inc.