Wellness, Social Infrastructure, and a Low Carbon narrative revitalizes a major Research Campus

Dathe Wong, HDR
Donald Chong, HDR

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The birthplace of Canada's nuclear industry and premier science and technology (S&T) organization, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) serves the nation as an enabler of business innovation and technology transfer. CNL with HDR, have taken a resilient approach to a generational transformation of its 60-year-old, 200-acre, Chalk River Laboratories campus. Prioritizing values of employee wellness, creation of meaningful social infrastructure, and carbon literacy drive the nearly $800M (CAD) revitalization of site infrastructure and investment in new, world-class science facilities with the goal to become CEDIR Park: Clean Energy Demonstration, Innovations & Research Park.

A suite of four buildings totaling over $500M (CAD) are all in various stages of design, construction, and occupancy. The projects are in alignment with the Government of Canada's policy direction on climate change, the Pan-Canadian Framework and the Canadian Federal Guidelines on sustainability. Mass timber structures form a central strategy to address embodied carbon in the effort to respond to a low-carbon economy. All buildings from the six-story Business & Innovations Hub and the high-bay Logistics and Support Buildings to the Advanced Nuclear Materials Research Centre are constructed wholly or all where possible in mass timber.

Creating a suite of state-of-the-art facilities requires a state-of-the-art process. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) fits that bill and enabled the exploration and eventual deployment of mass timber design strategies. IPD is a collaborative, transparent, and continuous improvement-based project delivery format built on a strong foundation of information sharing and intensive collaboration with shared risk and rewards. By bringing together a diverse team with a broad range of expertise including researchers, designers, constructors, and stakeholders into a shared and open working environment, preexisting biases and the dreaded "we've always done it this way" attitudes are challenged to deliver results focused on a value proposition based on low-carbon. The session is a case study and will showcase how CNL's sustainability goals transformed an aging business model into a future-facing, resilient and relevant innovations campus.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify people-focused opportunities to set campus-scale social infrastructure priorities;
  • Understand how Mass Timber structures can be an integral part of a low-carbon solution;
  • Describe methods to drive occupant wellness as in integral part of an overall sustainability strategy; and
  • Explain how IPD, a collaborative design and project delivery model, can be integral to achieving holistic and balanced sustainability objectives.


Dathe Wong is Principal, Education, Science, Technology with HDR. Dathe is a leader Integrated Project Delivery, and currently delivering Canada?s largest IPD at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. Dathe is an architect with over 24 years of institutional project leadership and construction experience. His portfolio demonstrates a commitment to social and environmental responsibility and passion for design excellence.

After creating his own award-winning architectural studios, Donald became HDR Toronto's Design Principal and launched the research-based 'Future Studio'. Donald has been widely recognized for his broadly-scoped, well-detailed architectural works and for his research initiatives—efforts strongly regarded for their inventiveness and investment in place-making. His deepening and critically engaging portfolio has drawn interest internationally for Donald to speak, adjudicate and teach abroad.


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