Graham Construction – Fox Two

Graham Construction picGraham joins forces again with Langham Developments on the Fox Two tower in Edmonton.
By Alan Dorich

For 30 years, very few high-rises were built in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. But in recent years, the work of Graham Construction and client Langham Developments has marked the revitalization of the area, Graham Project Manager Joel Isaac says.

This renaissance included the construction of Fox One, a 29-story condominium tower that was completed last year. Now, the two firms are at work on Fox Two, “which is the sibling tower to Fox One,” he says, noting that the $48 million structure will stand 34 stories with 169 condo suites when finished next fall.

The first five stories consist of a podium structure that will feature commercial and retail areas and a parking area. “The tower comes out of the podium [in] level six, where the condos start,” Isaac says.

Isaac notes that Graham has enjoyed working with Langham Developments. “We have got a successful relationship,” he says, noting that the two have “a mutual understanding [that] both parties need to succeed for the other to succeed.

“We understand their motivations and requirements,” Isaac continues. “We work effectively together with them to try to deliver what they want in the manner they want it. I think it comes down to teamwork and us being adaptable.”

Graham also applies this approach when working with its subcontractors and suppliers, which include many that it worked with on Fox One. “We’re just enjoying [having] familiar parties ... [get] a second chance to make what was pretty good on the first tower go even better on the second tower,” he says.

Blending In

Isaac is proud of Fox Two’s podium structure, which features a very elaborate brick and stone design. This mimics the neighboring buildings, which are a near a century old, and prevents the tower from looking “out of place,” he says.

“The exterior envelope for the entire building is a mixture of [materials],” he adds. It also features PVC aluminum hybrid windows, sandstone, acrylic stucco and curtainwall.

But installing the stucco has been challenging due to the weather. “In Edmonton, we have a cold weather climate six months of the year,” Isaac describes. “The stucco installation has to occur when it is appropriate for the products to cure.” Graham Construction box

To cope, “We’re constructing a full scaffold around the entire tower,” he describes. “The tower also is shrink-wrapped to maintain a temperature year round for the finishing of the walls for the stucco to be completed.”

Graham also copes with building Fox Two in a tight site. “We’re constructing an area building that is greater [in size] than the land we have to work with,” Isaac says.

“We don’t have a bunch of space for laydown and storage,” he continues. “That’s the biggest challenge, which is expected with downtown construction.”

But the company also has built safely, which is essential when building a tower, Isaacs says. “There’s the risks of objects falling, which we consider the biggest risks on projects like this,” he says, noting that Graham prevents this through the use of tool lanyards and activity specific procedures.

A Positive Outlook

Based in Calgary, Alberta, Graham started operations in 1926, building railway stations for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Today, the company says its expertise includes all buildings, industrial and infrastructure projects.

Isaac, who joined Graham 11 years ago, credits its success to its staff. “It’s an employee-owned company, so employees that work for Graham have a vested interest in the success of the company,” he says.

Graham also has a positive workplace. “It’s a very collaborative environment,” he says. “It’s a culture focused on improving how we do business, growing our employees as people, helping them reach their full potential, taking control of their careers and becoming what they want to be. It’s a great place to work.”

The company has learned lessons from the Fox One and Two towers that it will be able to apply to future projects, Isaac says. “We’re always refining our systems and our processes,” he says.

“The Tower projects have a lot of repetition and they breed processes,” he says. “Something we’re taking as very valuable is the training of our employees in those processes and how we can apply those processes to other projects.”

Isaac sees a strong future for Graham. “Because we are a diverse company, we are working in multiple [sectors] of the construction industry, whether it be industrial, infrastructure or buildings,” he says.

“That diversity allows us to ride the economic waves up and down and be a little more consistent,” Isaac says. “When one is down, the other picks up.”

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