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Hamilton, Ont.’s Walters Inc. helps build the American Dream

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by Dan O'Reilly

Being the steel supplier and installer for American Dream Meadowlands shopping mall complex in Lyndhurst, N.J. is a massive undertaking for Walters Inc. and one with some delays.
Walters Inc. of Hamilton, Ont. is the steel supplier and installer for the American Dream Meadowlands shopping mall project in Lyndhurst, N.J.
Walters Inc. of Hamilton, Ont. is the steel supplier and installer for the American Dream Meadowlands shopping mall project in Lyndhurst, N.J. - Photo: WALTERS INC.

Designed by AK & Associates and being built by PCL Construction Management for Triple Five Worldwide—the developer of the West Edmonton Mall—the complex will consist of range of  attractions including an indoor theme park, an indoor water park with an arched roof, an observation wheel, a NHL sized ice rink, an aquarium, and two 18-hole miniature golf courses.

By the time construction is completed Hamilton, Ont.-based Walters will have detailed, fabricated, and erected 25,000 tons of steel consisting of approximately 30,000 separate pieces.

"This is the largest self-contained project we have ever taken on," says Mark Koppelaar, the company's vice-president of projects. The company has been involved in larger projects, but they have been joint ventures with other fabricators, he explains.

Not all the challenges have design or construction ones. After performing a design assist role where it reviewed the engineering drawings for constructability, Walters began detailing in February 2015 and then fabrication in July 2016. But production had to be scaled back and then halted for about four months when the developer encountered problems obtaining financing. During that "on and off" period Walters concentrated on other projects.

"We don't like to leave our customers in the lurch," says Koppelaar when asked why it stuck with this one.

Fabrication will continue right into the spring of 2018 because of the temporary setback and will place in all of Walters' three Ontario plants. Delivery of the steel to the site began in November 2016 and every working day anywhere from one to 10 trucks head to New Jersey and more than 1,250 truckloads will have been set by the time the projects is finished. Supervisors at the site order the quantities and components four weeks in advance to ensure it arrives when needed, he says.

Erection of the steel began this past June and is being carried out by upwards of five raising gangs working in parallel. One of the most challenging aspects is lifting the large assembles, the largest of which is for the amusement park. It includes five 160-foot-long, eight-foot-wide, and 12-foot-high trusses with a total weight of 80 tons which have to be lifted into place with a 2,400-ton crawler.

Later this fall five arches consisting of seven, 28-ton sections will be lifted into place for the roof of the water park. This will be achieved through a somewhat different procedure, he says.

"Normally you would have to hang all the electrical and ductwork using 150-foot lifts. With PCL, we devised a plan to partially assemble trusses in nearby assembly yard, allowing us to do electrical duct work and other jobs on the ground."

Walters is using its own supervisory crew and local crews and the peak number of people on site is expected to reach 130.

According to American media reports, the project has long troubled history with a number different developer owners and financing problems before Triple Five Worldwide assumed control.

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