HH Angus and Associates

Ahead of the Curve of the Engineering Convention

HH Angus owns an impressive portfolio of public, commercial and institutional projects, and, established in 1919, presents its clients with almost a century of experience and leadership in building design and engineering. The firm designs and integrates the operational systems and the internal infrastructure. Simply put, the engineering team designs the skeleton to ensure that the architectural features stay in place and operate according to requirements: heating, cooling, and any specific operational needs a building may need, be it communications infrastructures, security systems, lighting designs, etc.

The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Tom Halpenny, Vice-President Operations & General Manager, and Barbara Bradley, Vice-President of Marketing & Business Development, about the latest development in the engineering landscape, and the most recent accomplishments and projects of the firm.

The firm recently finished Ericsson’s ICT Data Centre in Montreal, and is now working on three stations for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line in Toronto. Another project was the recently finished BMO Field upgrade. The $105 million BMO Field upgrade project, at the home of the Toronto FC, included the addition of 8,400 seats, a full-size canopy that covers most seats in the stadium, adding 12 executive suites, two party suites and a loge box, and the installation of a sound and lighting system.

The firm also recently retained the engineering portion of the $265 million GE project, moving an engine manufacturing plant from Wisconsin to Welland, Ont. “This will be an approximately 500,000 square foot facility that has the potential to employ up to 350 people, producing large capacity natural gas fired engines,” says Halpenny.

Equally interesting to Halpenny are significant healthcare projects the firm is undertaking in B.C. – Penticton Hospital and Royal Columbian Hospital. “What’s interesting for us is our ongoing expansion into Western Canada. These projects provide us with the opportunity to gain insights and expertise into implementing highly sophisticated communications systems, which are the backbone to all interactions within the hospital, encompassing everything from the building systems, to nurse and doctor communications, security, general movement of staff through the hospital space, etc. Basically what’s happening with and within the building vs. the function of the hospital.”

“We recognized the importance of this in the marketplace,” adds Bradley, “and last year we launched Angus Connect, which is a consultative level to our healthcare clients, and we’ve had some significant success with this new service in the marketplace.”

To the question about state and recent changes in the engineering markets, Bradley said, “That has been a significant change, because there has been quite a hot M&A market for some time. I think we have seen a slowdown in Mergers & Acquisitions with the engineering firms. What we are hearing from our clients is that they like that we are a standalone service offering and not a conglomerate.”

HH Angus is a knowledge-based firm, and the firm’s strong relationships with its clients is expressed in over 70% repeat business over the years. In fact, HH Angus and its drive to challenge the technological convention led the firm to design its first energy efficient building back in the early 1980s, before LEED was introduced in 1998; and the firm views sustainability as a race without a finish line, an ongoing process, constantly improving and seeking new solutions and innovative ways to satisfy its clients.

HH Angus has been quick to embrace a new industry standard that promises to be enjoying increased prominence in the building sector. Bradley notes, “We just finished working on a project that received the first International WELL Building certification in the world for our client, TD Bank Group. This is a relatively new accreditation which focuses on occupant comfort rather than building systems so, while LEED is for energy efficiency in building systems, WELL Building certification focuses on all that can be done to improve occupant comfort in buildings in an efficient way. We have been early supporters of the new standard, and are very pleased that the “TD23” project has the honour of being the first corporate project in the world to be officially recognized. We got into WELL on the ground floor, learning about the standard’s requirements, and working towards WELL accreditation for staff members. We believe these standards are going to be very appealing to tenants interested in leasing high-end property, so we are looking ahead, believing that WELL Certification may be up there with the LEED standard somewhere down the line.”

The firm’s strategy to remain diversified across different areas has been paying off, and the number of employees has increased by 20 per cent in the past four years. “I would also say that we are also maturing in the way we do business,” says Halpenny. “We look and behave more like a business rather than a ‘practice.’ We are talking to our clients, trying to learn what they are expecting from us, and evolving systems internally to be able to better provide our offerings to clients in a meaningful way.”