Feature Projects

Profile articles exploring the background and traits of particular projects

Building An Apartment Complex in Inuvik, NT

New Construction

Considered the ‘gateway’ to the Western Arctic, the welcoming town of Inuvik, Northwest Territories, is 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle and just shy of 100 kilometres from the Beaufort Sea, which feeds into the Arctic Ocean.

With a population of just over 3,500 as of 2018, Inuvik sits on the eastern portion of the MacKenzie Delta - the largest arctic delta in North America.

As one can imagine, weather extremes like consistently low temperatures, constant sunlight, no sunlight, and permafrost are a regularity for the residents of Inuvik.

However, the small Inuvik community is robust, friendly, and incredibly welcoming to visitors and new residents. Inuvik sits on the traditional land of Inuvialuit, Gwich’in and Metis people, and has a mix of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents.

While our team has had the opportunity to work in the Northwest Territories previously, this was Midwest’s first foray into apartment envelope design and interior fitting in that region. It has been an adventure for the Southwest and Midwest Design & Construction Team!

Project Scope

Phase One:

The Midwest team began construction on the apartment project in February 2020 and we anticipate a completion date of February 2023.

The apartment building will feature 17 standard rental units. Each unit will have 2 to 3 bedrooms, and the total building size is set to be 27,000 square feet.

Initially, our project scope only consisted of the exterior envelope design, which, put simply, is the structure of the building without any interior fitting. This included the structure, roof, siding, windows, and doorways.

Our design team worked with BEHLEN Industries to construct the steel structure, and with IDC Construction overall in a joint construction venture agreement.

The envelope took about a year to design and construct, which brings the timeline to February 2021.

Phase Two:

Because of our longstanding good rapport with IDC and for exemplary work on the envelope design and construction, the Midwest team was asked to provide a price for the interior fitting.

For the benefit of the layman, interior fit projects involve mechanical and electrical systems, ceiling install, flooring, walls and other requirements to ensure the building is ready for occupancy.

This portion of the work was under a separate contract, and was to be tendered after most of the envelope design and construction were complete.

We were awarded the interior fit project that month and began construction shortly after.

Interestingly, the envelope structure is not yet complete, and interior fit construction is taking place simultaneously. The extreme climate in Inuvik prevented exterior work through the winter months, however, only the patio doors remain outstanding for the envelope portion.

Now that the weather is warming up, our team has resumed work and are still on track for our projected completion timeframe of March 2023.

Project Management in Inuvik

During active construction our project management team makes monthly trips to ensure the crew on the ground has what they need.

Local site superintendents ensure that things are running smoothly day-to-day, and the project management team helps ensure that the construction timeline is progressing as it should.

Arctic Building Requirements

In Arctic communities, it’s common to build structures on steel piles, and naturally, basements are not an option.

This is due to the Arctic permafrost, the permanently frozen ground often found in northern Canada.

The active layer of the permafrost (which, in recent years, has deepened) will thaw each year as temperatures rise, so steel piles are necessary to prevent depleting the permafrost.

Contract Award Process

Southwest and Midwest Design & Construction and IDC Construction have almost 10 years of experience working together on various projects.

For the initial envelope structure project, the Midwest team received a project tender, or invitation to bid, based on this previous relationship. Also considered was their history of working in Arctic conditions and their experience with designing structures with the Arctic climate in mind.

After the envelope structure was nearly complete, save for the portions that had to wait due to the extreme cold, the tendering process began for the second phase of the project - the interior fit.

The team at Southwest And Midwest Design & Construction have a wide range of experience with both design and construction, so we were a natural contender for the interior fit portion of the project. We were invited to price the project for both design and construction, and we were awarded the contract very shortly after bidding.

Contact Southwest And Midwest Design & Construction

Our team is thrilled that we have been able to work on such a unique project in beautiful Northern Canada. Getting to know the locals, sampling the vibrant Inuvik way of life, and further developing our rapport with IDC and our subcontractors has been a true privilege.

Want to learn more about how we can help your next design and construction project? Contact the team at Southwest and Midwest Design & Construction with our convenient online quote request tool. A member of our staff will be in touch to discuss project details and the next steps.