Mountain Equipment Co-op

Burlington, Ontario


MEC’s goal was to produce an environmentally responsive environment for a large retail store in an emerging urban location.

Our challenge was to design a built form that could be materially recovered to preserve a future opportunity. Suburban retail pad development works in a short-term economic context. Property value is tied to the land, not the building, and demolition is considered a liability.

Storm water was completely contained on the site through utilization of two below grade cisterns and an infiltration gallery at grade.  Collected water was used for onsite irrigation and non-potable uses within the new building (toilet flushing, etc.).  Two large solar arrays provide solar thermal and solar electrical energy for the building.

Our solution was to accept this limitation of suburban retail pad development and design for disassembly. We anticipated greater density in the future, either in the form of site densification and modification of the existing built form, or in building disassembly. Structural members are composed of exposed glulam with bolted connections, allowing for future re-use. Typical exterior walls are structural insulated panels, a system that is materially efficient and simple and quick to assemble on site. Interior and exterior finish materials are mechanically fastened modular panels of prefinished cement board and metal siding. Adhesives and bonded connections were avoided where possible in order that materials could be readily separated by component or material in the future.

The key to the project’s success was our ability to anticipate the site’s future conditions, and determine an inventive and environmentally conscious response. MEC Burlington exceeds minimum energy efficiency as prescribed by the MNECB by a projected 64%, and achieved a LEED Gold status.

 Wood Design Award – Commercial (2010)

WoodWORKS, the Canadian Wood Council


Ontario Concrete Award (2009)

Material Development and Innovation: Cast-In-Place Concrete

Client: Mountain Equipment Co-op