Journal of Commerce by ConstructConnect | October 6, 2023
Deanna Perrin, BSc (Civil), P.Eng. | Associate

It took only minutes for the atrium roof at The Snow Ghost Inn, about an hour’s drive from Kelowna, B.C., to experience a catastrophic failure and collapse under the snow load on April 20, 2020.

Fortunately, the atrium was empty and the remainder of the building, which offers accommodation for patrons of the Big White Ski Resort, was largely unaffected by the collapse.

Designing and building a new roof and a three storey-tall floor-to-roof steel moment frame on rock-socketed concrete piles has taken considerably longer.

Edmonton-based Whitemud Ironworks was the detailer/fabricator/erector of the moment frames. There are 14 nine-metre-long columns and all the columns are in 360-by-314 sections, which are approximately 400 millimetres deep by 400 millimetres wide heavy steel I-sections.

After insurance claims were finally settled and the design completed, construction by PCL began in the summer of 2022 and has now reached the substantial completion stage.

During the course of the project, PCL and its various subcontractors had to contend with difficult mountain weather conditions, a fairly remote location and poor access to the hillside site along a windy road.

“This project has proven to be a challenge every step of the way,” says Deanna Perrin, associate with RJC Engineers, the forensic structural review, demolition, design, building envelope and construction services consultant.

Those hurdles began long before construction even started. After being initially hired by the insurance provider following the collapse, RJC provided a structural review for safe access of the site and subsequently a description of the original construction, plus an assessment of the probable cause of the collapse, says Perrin.

“There were no drawings available at the time.”

Delays in insurance claims meant final design documents weren’t completed until the summer of 2022, she says.

From a structural design perspective, one of the greatest challenges was redesigning a new roof without making massive changes to the building envelope.

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