The germination of the StructureCraft idea began when Gerry Epp and partner Paul Fast (of the structural engineering firm Fast + Epp) toured Europe in 1994. Gerry became intrigued with the master- builder concept embedded in the European tradition.
In 1998, Fast + Epp was the consulting structural engineer on the Pacific Canada Pavilion extension to the Vancouver Public Aquarium. Local contractors were reluctant to bid on the exposed timber/stainless steel roof and faced package for the project because of the geometric and logistical complexities involved. The bid that did come in was well over the available budget and, as a result, the design was in jeopardy. Backed by his partner, and with the client's approval, Gerry took what he felt was the next logical step, creating a design-build company to do the job. Thus StructureCraft was born. This project was followed by the Surrey City Central development - a world class timber structure which won multiple awards and firmly established the company's reputation.
At the root of the decision to form the new company was the belief that the job could be done, and for the price set in the project budget. StructureCraft took on all components of the job for a fixed price and then guaranteed the client that the company would deliver.
The issues that had deterred other contractors remained, however. The project was geometrically challenging, involving carefully detailed and finished timber and polished stainless steel. And, it required an extremely high degree of precision in the crafting, manufacturing, and erection of the custom-designed components.
The unique 8,000 square foot roof uses Parallam beams as the top chord and polished stainless steel rods and fittings as the bottom chord of king-post trusses that work compositely with a vaulted Parallam 3-D pyramid truss.
A 9 to 14-foot glazed façade facing the adjacent whale pool is supported by furniture-quality bow truss mullions made of polished stainless steel and milled Parallam. Because the façade has a sloped top edge, each mullion is unique.
Beyond these technical challenges, the site itself presented several logistical difficulties. There was little room to move, the schedule was extremely tight, and the aquarium had to remain open throughout the construction process.
To make it work, we constructed the roof and façade from a prefabricated assembly of parts. This allowed us to ensure rapid, accurate erection despite the difficult site conditions.