Development activity is booming across the GTA despite a global pandemic and economic slowdown, and with the provincial government’s recent election mandate promising plenty of new infrastructure and building projects, this trend shows no signs of slowing down. What has changed over the past decade of construction, however, is the complexity of new projects going up across the region. The towers are getting taller and thinner, the sites are getting smaller and more urban, and construction costs are soaring to new heights across all sectors. These parameters require increasingly creative and innovative solutions, and so a pair of companies in the GTA are joining forces to help clients address these head on.

Rebar Enterprises Inc is based in Oakville and is leading the way when it comes to rebar design for reinforced concrete. They hold patents for their modular prefabricated rebar, which has become the industry standard for construction in the GTA and has featured in prominent projects here in Toronto including The One, The Well, and the L Tower. More information about their modular prefabricated rebar can be found here.

The Walters Group is a family-owned industry leader in steel design and fabrication located in Hamilton. They hold patents in both Canada and the US for a prefabricated rebar assembly module. Over the past 65 years, they have provided their services for a diverse portfolio of large-scale projects across Canada, including several here in Toronto such as CIBC Square, The Residences of 488 University Avenue, and the Crosstown Line 5.

Tim Verhey (left) and Emin Buzimkic (centre right) on the site of The One with Kevin MacLean (centre left) and Daniel Snodgrass (right) from RJC Engineers, image courtesy of Rebar Enterprises Inc

Rebar Enterprises and Walters Group first collaborated on The One, Canada’s first supertall tower at the corner of Yonge and Bloor streets in Toronto that is currently under construction, where they designed an innovative solution for the tower’s unique structural system. The One features an exoskeleton structure supported by massive perimeter columns and steel cross-bracing, with unique transfer beams and angled columns at its base that eliminate the need for columns or a structural core in the ground floor retail space.

Working together on The One, Rebar Enterprises and Walters Group developed hybrid concrete columns that are composed of modular prefabricated rebar wrapped around a core of structural steel. This unique solution was partially a response to the incredibly compact site in a busy urban setting, which presented challenges for both the constructability of the structure and the project’s budget and timeline using traditional construction methods. Their hybrid columns shaved roughly six to nine months off the project schedule, drastically reduced labour costs associated with the laying of rebar, and managed to save millions of dollars for the client.

View of the hybrid columns at The One, image courtesy of the Walters Group

From that experience working together on The One, Rebar Enterprises and Walters Group realized that combining their respective expertise to form a strategic partnership had the potential to create unique solutions for any project that would save time and money for all involved. Emin Buzimkic, President of Rebar Enterprises, explained that while engineers are well-versed in designing structural systems, they often do not give enough consideration to the specific on-site issues of building the structure, such as fabrication, transportation of the materials, construction methods, and sequencing. This is where Rebar Enterprises and Walters Group can provide invaluable knowledge, predicting what complexities lie ahead for the project and designing accordingly.

Tim Verhey, Executive Vice-President of Engineering and Operations at Walters Group, stresses that the earlier on in the project they are engaged, the better the results will be. Rebar Enterprises and Walters Group both provide a full range of services across all phases of the project, collaborating closely with the client and consultants early in the design process to proactively identify problems and to pre-emptively address them to avoid headaches down the line when construction crews arrive on site. Their approach focuses on providing the most pragmatic, economical, and creative solutions for each project that will streamline the construction process and save time and money for the client. “It’s all about collaboration,” Verhey stated. “It’s about getting the right minds together to come up with innovative and efficient construction solutions”.

Their expertise is not limited to any specific sector of the construction industry. Their unique approach can be applied to high-rise residential or commercial buildings, heavy industrial buildings, transit infrastructure, or any building type with complex constraints requiring a creative solution. Buzimkic likes to call it “flexpert” engineering: designing with experts who are agile, nimble, and flexible, and who are able to adapt to any situation to provide the best possible result.

View of a hybrid column at The One, image courtesy of Mizrahi Developments

As development activity continues to boom across the GTA, we can expect more and more complex and unique buildings to pop up in our cities. Rebar Enterprises and Walters Group have positioned themselves at the forefront of the movement to foster greater collaboration between manufacturers, builders, designers, and clients in order to come up with the most innovative and creative solutions that provide the best results for all parties involved. As Buzimkic and Verhey put it, “If you want it, we can do it”.

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