News, Events, Products


SABMag Issue 63 – Summer 2019

RAIC’s 2019 Festival of Architecture in Toronto from October 26 to 30

By Eva Schacherl , RAIC Communications

Toronto is one of the world’s most global cities: some 130 languages and dialects are spoken in its eclectic neighbourhoods. It’s also the fourth-largest city in North America. So what better place to hear leaders in architecture debate the future of global urban life in the 21st century, or to look back on the 20th?

The first will happen with a keynote presentation by Vishaan Chakrabarti, FAIA, the author of A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America. He argues that a more urban America would result in a more prosperous, sustainable, joyous, and socially mobile nation. The Globe and Mail said of the manifesto that “there’s been a barrage of recent books on similar themes…but Mr. Chakrabarti has written maybe the most useful one, a polemic in favour of city living that makes the stakes clear.” 

The look back will include an address by Renzo Piano, one of the most iconic 20th-century architects for buildings such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the London Bridge Tower (The Shard). Chakrabarti and Piano are being made Honorary Fellows of the RAIC this year. Festival’s 16 architectural tours will be another way to appreciate the city’s architectural legacy, past and present. Delegates will be able to visit Union Station, both a National Historic Site and a recently expanded transportation/retail hub, and find out how NORR Architects & Engineers created a model for revitalizing railway hubs.

Other architectural tours will look at Toronto’s skyline and its towers designed by contemporary masters like I.M. Pei; Toronto’s waterfront and its revitalization (with DTAH); the “vertical campus” of the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex (Perkins + Will) at Ryerson University; and the Launchpad Collaboration Workspace, a first-of-its-kind facility (Quadrangle).

This year’s Festival continuing education program – with 19 sessions and six plenaries – will look at equity and inclusion, planning and designing transit infrastructure, implementing a digital practice, mid-rise and high-rise wood construction, building for a net zero carbon future, and other topics. Find the full program at:

RAIC International Prize Gala: For the first time, the RAIC International Prize Gala will take place in conjunction with Festival, where the winner of the $100,000 prize will be unveiled. The RAIC International Prize recognizes great architecture’s power to be socially transformative. The celebration will take place on October 25 at the Westin Harbour Castle, and tickets are available at

Registration fees for Festival 2019 are reduced until June 30.  There is a special member rate as well as a companion/retiree package. Trade show and sponsorship opportunities are available. Register for Festival 2019 by June 30 for best pricing here.

3D printer in tests to print two-storey house in Belgium

The largest 3D printer in the world is about to start printing a two-storey house on the site of Kamp C, the provincial Centre for Sustainability and Innovation in Westerlo, Belgium. Interested companies are welcome to experiment with the printer in Westerlo as of this autumn, with the goal of convincing the Flemish construction industry of the merits of this innovative technique with practical examples.

The Kamp C printer is mainly suited for printing concrete building components, and companies will be able to experiment with the printer until 2020, allowing them to try it for more complex building components such as vaulted ceilings or curved walls which could be produced with more precision off-site. “The 3D printer offers countless new options for the entire construction industry in our province and far beyond,” says Kathleen Helsen, the provincial deputy for European Cooperation and the President of Kamp C.

Precast concrete industry releases Wall Thermal Performance Calculator

The Canadian Precast Prestressed Concrete Institute (CPCI) has released its new web-based software, “Precast Concrete Wall Thermal Performance Calculator”, for designers that calculates effective R-values for common architectural single-wythe and double-wythe precast concrete wall systems. Developed by RDH Building Science, the software can show a comparison of the calculated effective R-values with the requirements of several building codes: OBC 2017, NECB 2011, NECB 2015, ASHRAE 90.1 2010, and ASHRAE 90.1 2013. The software provides an easy to use user-interface allowing for the selection of applicable code and system parameters including concrete thickness, insulation type and thickness. It also includes graphical representation of the inputs and outputs that may be printed for presentation to members of the design team and Authorities Having Jurisdiction. The software can be accessed here

Book: 100 Projects UK CLT

For those of us resident on a continent that boasts 20% of the world’s forests and a wood industry with considerable economic clout, the title of this book might not immediately be an attention grabber. After all, the UK is smaller than the state of Oregon, coniferous forests account for less than 10% of its land area and the country does not produce its own cross laminated timber (CLT). However, it is precisely these facts that make this book an interesting addition to the growing resource on mass wood construction.

That the sponsors of this publication are the US Softwood Lumber Board and BC-based Forestry Innovation Investment, suggests that there is value here for those involved in the design of mass wood buildings in the North American market. Furthermore, if we are to learn something from the UK experience, then Waugh Thistleton, the architectural firm that produced the book, is certainly an authoritative source – they designed the first CLT high-rise, the 9-storey Murray Grove apartments in London in 2010, and recently completed Dalston Lane, a mixed-use development which is currently the largest CLT project in the world.

The portfolio of projects is diverse both in scale and program, with the largest representation being from the educational and residential sectors. Drawn from the more than 500 CLT projects completed so far in the UK, the quality is consistently high. While many are geometrically simple, some explore the formal potential of the material in ways yet to be seen in North America. The work of dRMM and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios stands out in this regard.

Easy to dip into, this book offers both hard information and encouragement to those trying to advance mass wood construction in North America, that there is a way forward. Go to

Jim Taggart, FRAIC is the editor of SABMag, the author of Toward a Culture of Wood Architecture, and co-author of Tall Wood Buildings: Design, Construction and Performance. He teaches Wood Design at the BC Institute of Technology in Vancouver.



Fast-Tube™ fast, economical and steps lightly

Fast-Tube™ by BC-based FAB-Form is a ‘soft’ fabric column form for forming round concrete columns. Manufactured from high strength polyethylene, Fast-Tube™ comes on rolls and is available in diameters from 8″ to 20″. Installation, pouring and stripping is quick and easy, with minimal disturbance of the site.

Arriscraft introduces Metropolitan over-sized building stone

Cambridge, ON-based Arriscraft has introduced Metropolitan which combines long length and various heights – giving designers tremendous flexibility. The masonry units feature a sandblasted texture, are 31-5/8″ long, and available in three face rises: 1-15/16″, 4-1/4″ and 6-1/2″, and in four colours:  Greyrock, Nutmeg, Oakmoss and White. Arriscraft’s Natural Process technology uses only natural materials (plus colour pigments) and replicates how stone is created in the earth. This patented process creates stone with the natural aesthetics and durability of quarried stone, plus the convenience of standard installation and unlimited supply.


GSky® Living Green Walls launches Versa Wall® XT for exterior installation

GSky Plant Systems, Inc., a global leader in the design and production of interior and exterior green walls, has launched the Versa Wall® XT system, an exterior living wall alternative to pre-grown panels. Unlike the pre-planted panels used in most exterior green walls, Versa Wall® XT uses one-gallon potted plants in lightweight trays such that full-grown plants can be swapped in quickly and cleanly. This system can be a seasonal alternative in colder climates where plants can be removed for the winter or replaced entirely in the spring. Its patented vertical irrigation technology cuts water waste, prevents oversaturation, and boosts cost efficiency by automatically running a timed gravity-based irrigation cycle two to three times per week.