Mainstreaming Mass Wood Construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from Brock Com

At 18 storeys and 53 metres in height, Brock Commons Tallwood House is a 404-bed student residence building located on The University of British Columbia Point Grey campus in Vancouver,  that officially opened for students in July of 2017. The project is the first to be completed in Canada under the 2013 Tall Wood Building Demonstration Project Initiative sponsored by Natural Resources Canada.

By Russell Acton

At 18 storeys and 53 metres in height, Brock Commons Tallwood House is a 404-bed student residence building located on The University of British Columbia Point Grey campus in Vancouver,  that officially opened for students in July of 2017. The project is the first to be completed in Canada under the 2013 Tall Wood Building Demonstration Project Initiative sponsored by Natural Resources Canada.

Brock Commons aspires to be a model for a future that features extraordinarily ordinary mass wood buildings that are quick, clean and cost effective to construct and which maximize carbon sequestration and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in cities.

The building is extraordinary for its height—which makes Brock Commons the world’s current tallest mass timber tower—the building is also extraordinary for the speed at which its structure of glue laminated timber, cross laminated timber [CLT], and prefabricated facade went up in only 66 days. At 2,233 cubic metres, the building utilizes an extraordinary amount of timber that stores an impressive 1,753 metric tons of carbon dioxide and avoids the production of 679 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions associated with a concrete equivalent. Another extraordinary achievement is that the innovative project demonstrates that a mass wood building can be comparable in cost to a traditional concrete building.

To make the building possible the provincial government of British Columbia issued a site-specific regulation that allowed Brock Commons to use mass timber in a high-rise application, which resulted in a building that is even more resistant to fire than an equivalent concrete or steel tower. Key to receiving approvals and realizing economic viability for the timber tower was a ‘keep it simple’ design approach that makes the building appear ordinary—extraordinarily ordinary—through the encapsulation of the wood structure with gypsum board.

With all the attention the building has received from the architectural media, this ‘ordinariness’ has largely been overlooked. In fact, we have often been criticized for not exposing the wood, as if covering the structure with drywall was somehow dishonest.

Russell Acton Architect, AIBC AAA SAA OAA FRAIC, is a Principal at Acton Ostry Architects.

PROJECT CREDITS
Architect Acton Ostry Architects Inc.
Owner University of British Columbia
Tall Wood Advisor Architekten Hermann Kaufmann ZT GmbH
Structural Fast + Epp
Fire Science & Building Code GHL Consultants Ltd.
Building Science RDH Building Science
Mechanical, Electrical & Sustainability Stantec
Mass Wood Erection Seagate Structures
Mass Wood Supply Structurlam
Concrete Formwork Whitewater Concrete Ltd.
Virtual Modelling Cadmakers Inc.
Energy Modelling EnerSys Analytics Inc.
Acoustics RWDI
Landscape Hapa Collaborative
Civil Kamps Engineering Limited
Geotechnical Geopacific Consultants Inc.
Construction Management Urban One Builders
Development Management UBC Properties Trust
Photos Michael Elkan, KK Law, Pollux Chung, Steven Errico

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