Windsor Family Credit Union Centre 


Windsor Family Credit Union Centre, Ontario, Canada

In the spring of 2007, Don Sadler, Executive Director of the City of Windsor Parks & Facilities, was looking for the perfect solution for the local community’s recreational needs.

As he recalls, the list was long; “The WFCU Centre had highly political expectations in our community as we had been attempting to build a new OHL [Ontario Hockey League] facility to support our Junior A Spitfire franchise for over 30 years. This, coupled with high costs of operating single site venues such as stand alone Arenas & Community Centres, focused a need to package these venues in one site to take advantage of reduced operating costs. As always some traditional centres which were located in neighborhoods had to give way to the new complex. The result was a high expectation to build a complex that was state of the art yet functional and within budget.”

Not only did the facility have to be able to support a variety of recreational needs, the community requested a warm, family-friendly environment for all ages to enjoy. And in order to keep the long-term costs to a minimum, the facility had to be built of a material that was low maintenance and vandalism resistant. And—time was of the essence—the building needed to be constructed in 18 months or less.

Mr Sandler took his long list of requirements and challenges for the soon to be named Windsor Family Credit Union (WFCU) Centre to the local building community to see what solutions they could come up with.

That’s when general contractor, PCR, got involved and developed a plan to utilize various construction methods and materials, all working in sync of one another. This helped by not placing the burden solely on one method of construction or trade.

One of the most visible interior aspects of the facility was the long and expansive hall ways. It was important to present a warm, family environment for all to enjoy without reverting to standard painted masonry units which would present a cold and institutional appearance. The walls also needed to provide some abatement of sound in the highly traveled hallways. And finally, the material needed to eliminate the cost of painting and withstand the rigors of everyday use. Integrally colored concrete masonry units (CMU) were the clear-cut solutions to the long list of needs.

PCR worked with a local masonry producer to create a proto-type which would eventually be used throughout the facility. A relatively unique profile for the masonry unit was selected which would use an inset of 3/16" (4.8 mm) on each vertical side of the block. When this was combined with the typical 3/8" (10 mm) mortar joint a vertical width of the head joint would be 3/4" (19 mm). In order to maintain symmetry with the vertical joint, a 3/8" (10 mm) bevel was formed to the top of the block and that again combined with the 3/8" (10 mm) mortar joint produced the same 3/4" (19 mm) appearance. This design disguised the vertical plane of the wall and masked any variability one would expect to see in long masonry wall construction. The unit was produced in a Medium Cedar Color and accented with a Split Face Charcoal.

The final result of these efforts yielded a highly attractive CMU wall at an  conomical cost, with excellent sound properties due to the non-monolithic constructed surface. John Fregonese, of PCR Contractors Inc., feels the job was a great success, “We were able to utilize colored, architectural CMUs in the corridors of the WFCU centre, providing a visually attractive finish, which did not require any additional drywall or painting. This eliminated both the added cost of drywall and painting, and was able to satisfy the schedule by eliminating work activities.”

Mr. Sadler agrees, “The one time investment in the decorative block was less than to paint surfaces or cover with drywall. [This project] was under a microscope as other City projects had failed to come in on schedule and budget.” He continues, “Concrete block provided a finished product in less time and has proven its durability and ease of maintenance over the past 18 months.

We are challenged with reducing maintenance costs and the block finish has allowed us to not worry about walled corridors and concentrate on other areas for maintenance.” CMD

Windsor Family Credit Union (WFCU) Centre, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

General Contractor:
PCR Contractors, Windsor, Ontario

Masonry Contractor:
Contact Masonry, Oldcastle, Ontario

Masonry Supplier:
Santerra Stonecraft, Windsor, Ontario

The contractor, PCR, worked with the masonry producer to create a uniquely finished block.


Q & A with John Fregonese, Chief Estimator, PCR Contractors Inc

What qualities make concrete masonry units a preferred building material?
Aesthetically, CMU’s are available in a variety of profiles, colours and sizes, which allows for many creative designs.

Structurally, CMU’s can be utilized to satisfy various structural loading requirements, minimizing the amount of steel required, while also providing excellent sound-proofing and fire-rating qualities.

How do the inherent qualities of CMUs contribute to supporting the priorities and/or solving the challenges presented in the WFCU Centre project?
We were able to utilize coloured, architectural CMUs in the corridors of the WFCU Centre, providing a visually attractive finish, which did not require any additional drywall or painting. This eliminated both the added cost of drywall and painting, and was able to satisfy the schedule by eliminating work activities.

Is there one technical aspect of the WFCU Center project that stands out to you?
The one technical aspect of the WFCU Centre would have to be the marriage of various building components used in the project. The WFCU Centre is an excellent example for any student, professional or fan of design/construction to see a finished product with almost every method of construction available used today under one roof, from everything including the CMU, precast concrete, structural steel, cast-in-place concrete, pre-engineered buildings, to green-roofs.