In-Focus: Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts
Vancouver, British Columbia

SFU School for the Contemporary Arts Located on the historic Woodward's department store site in downtown Vancouver, the new home for the Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts is a stunning state-of-the-art exhibition, teaching, performance and research complex. As a part of a greater redevelopment project at Woodward's, the 125,000 square foot space boasts a configurable Experimental Theatre, two studio theatres, a world art studio, cinema hall for feature film presentations or large lectures and dialogue, as well as gallery space on the main floor with six moving partition walls. In addition, a film sound stage, multiple dance studios, a music teaching studio, a two-level multidisciplinary area incorporating two computer teaching labs and numerous smaller suites and offices round out this modern fully-featured facility.

Conceptually, the building has been designed with sustainability and efficiency in mind. It features extensive "green roofs" throughout the site, significant recycled content and local material sourcing, as well as using the existing Beatty Steam plant to convert steam to hot water for radiant and domestic heating. The facility has a 100 year life expectancy, more than twice the lifespan of existing similar buildings.

Controls Challenge & Solution

Being a newly built facility and designed from the ground up to be a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose flexible space, the controls strategy needed to match the design intent's flexibility and efficiency. Numerous spaces had to be individually controlled, often with multiple control devices such as radiant heating and variable air volume devices. Customized control sequences were implemented to automate the function of the variable air volume controllers with a mix of carbon dioxide, heating and cooling radiant valves and occupancy sensor control. A complex system of heating temperature compensation was implemented to provide additional heat for comfort only during necessary times in order to maximize efficiency. Complete pressure control for the main air handlers was required, and we provided the necessary balancing interface tools to ensure a thorough and accurate balancing of the system was executed. The world-class graphical user interface allows facility operators to further tune or adjust system settings as needed. Third party integration with various devices as well as with a BACnet™ McQuay chiller was required, and adjustable dew point compensation control was implemented for the chiller control strategy.

Modern System's LonWorks® based device controller network, combined with an Ethernet-linked controller and supervisor network provide a complete, Internet accessible solution for the entire facility DDC system. The customized graphical user interface provides real time monitoring and adjustment functions as well as system alarms and complete trending features. All zone information can be accessed immediately through the faithfully reproduced floor plan screens, while special events and irregular operating hours can be automated and pre-programmed using the flexible integrated scheduling system.


In September 2010 The Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts opens its doors at the new Woodward's campus, and the students, performers, instructors and visitors will enjoy a modern, efficient and fully automated facility. Our control system allows full remote access to the control system, providing timely system alarms, easy-to-use interface for adjusting space settings and effective trend logging for data analysis and troubleshooting. Tight integration with third party equipment provides a seamless transition between BACnet™ and LonWorks® controllers, while the system architecture is fully capable for further expansion when needed, guaranteeing the longevity of the controls investment alongside the building's vision for the future.

Modern Systems Management Ltd. is a leading provider of HVAC control, building automation and direct digital control (DDC) solutions. Based in Surrey, BC and with offices in Victoria, Modern Systems Management Ltd serves British Columbia and Yukon, including Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, northern regions and the Interior. Since incorporating in 1978 as an independent field office of Barber Colman for British Columbia, Modern Systems Management Ltd. has acquired an extensive building base of installed equipment through our professionalism and expertise. We provide top quality solutions for heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) temperature controls systems in commercial buildings, as well as many other building automation products including lighting and monitoring systems.