Wood Design & Building Spring 2023

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Six dollars Spring 2023 — Number 93 Publications Mail agreement #40063877 Home Sweet Home Supportive housing for women Ferry Crossing Timber-constructed terminals Green Rooms A biophilic office complex PLACEMAKING


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The Nancy Pauw Bridge | Banff, AB Client: Town of Banff | Design-Build Contractor: StructureCraft | Structural Engineer: StructureCraft. Photo credit Construction right: Paul Zizka Photography

Northern Exposure 12

Just below the Arctic Circle in Sweden, the Sara Cultural Centre provides a sense of place.


Metropol Parasol 18

One of the world’s largest wooden structures provides much-needed shade and a gathering place for its citizens.

Arc of Triumph 24

Making Waves

Wood Chips 8

Projects to watch and industry news

Wood Ware 46

Some Assembly Required

An old football field reaches new heights as a climbing center.

Factory Made 28

The all-timber headquarters of this Québec-based company maximizes natural light and creates collaborative spaces.

Home Sweet Home 34

Two multi-unit residential buildings provide supportive housing for women and their families and also create a sense of place.

Easy Being Green

A hybrid timber office complex goes biophilic.

Technical Solutions 42

Interested in using wood construction in buildings up to 12 stories? The Ontario Building Code now has an acceptable solution.


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On the cover: Sara Cultural Centre
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Photography: Jonas Westling
Against the Grain 6
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A Sense of Place

Most people would agree that the use of wood as building material is both practical and pleasing. Practical, because it’s a renewable resource that, in these days of environmental consciousness, keeps architecture firms exploring new ways to design with minimal carbon footprint. Pleasing, because of wood’s sheer beauty when it’s exposed within structures.

In this issue, the parametric design of the Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain, (p.18) and the rectilinear form of the Sara Cultural Centre in Skellefteå, Sweden, (p.12) are indeed eye-pleasing, practical structures. They are also structures of placemaking.

Built a decade apart, and in very different climates, these projects were constructed on underutilized, derelict sites. They now bring not only beauty but also life back to the cities. This is placemaking at its finest.

Here in North America, two buildings for the YW of Kitchener-Waterloo (p.34) provide supportive housing for women and children in the region and have created a sense of place for the residents.

The connection between people and place must be strong; the architects of these projects have done just that. People have returned. Home may be where the heart is…but place is where the people are.

Wood Design & Building magazine invites you to submit your project for consideration and possible publication. We welcome contributed projects, bylined articles, and letters to the editor, as well as comments or suggestions for improving our magazine. Please send your submissions to wood.editorial@dvtail.com.

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inspiration BOARD




Spring 2023, Volume 22, Issue 93




EDITOR BROOKE SMITH wood.editorial@dvtail.com





SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE DINAH QUATTRIN dquattrin@dvtail.com 905.886.6641 ext. 308




Shelley Craig, Principal, Urban Arts Architecture, Vancouver, BC Gerry Epp, President & Chief Engineer, StructureCraft Builders Inc., Vancouver, BC

Laura Hartman, Principal, Fernau & Hartman Architects, Berkeley, CA

Randall Kober, Master Lecturer, Faculty of Architecture, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON CIRCULATION

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America’s 26th state has a new bridge. Designed and built by Experiential Resources (ERi), SkyBridge Michigan runs 1,200 ft., with the deck height above ground at 118 ft. at its highest point. Although nicknamed “Michigan’s Second Bridge,” the pedestrian bridge is a first. It now holds the honor of the longest timber-towered suspension bridge in the world.

Located at the Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls, the bridge connects the peaks of McLouth and Disciples Ridge. The two towers are 52 ft. tall, and each has 133 timber members: 92 glulam and 41 solid sawn. The timber was sourced from a family-owned logging and sawmill operation located at the foot of Boyne Mountain, recalling northern Michigan’s logging tradition.

Construction began in July 2021, paused for the winter season, and resumed in April 2022 with completion in October.

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sponsored by Photo: Experiential Resources Photo: Boyne Mountain Resort BOYNE FALLS, MI

Making Waves

Often seen as utilitarian structures to pass through rather than places that can inspire or tell stories, ferry terminals don’t readily come to mind when people think of projects that incorporate inventive uses of wood. But even in this salt-stained category, there are several examples of designers harkening back to the wooden sailing ships of old with innovative ideas.

Opened in December 2020, the Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal north of Seattle, WA, is the American West Coast’s busiest ferry terminal, with more than two million vehicles and four million riders passing through each year. The building’s form, derived through close collaboration with Coast Salish tribes, enriches the passenger experience by streamlining circulation and managing large patron flows with intuitive wayfinding. A contemporary interpretation of a Native American longhouse, the two-story design includes wood and steel composite columns that support double glulam rafters, purlins, and a CLT roof deck. Western red cedar was used for the exterior cladding.

Situated across the river from Québec City, QC, the Lévis Ferry Terminal draws inspiration from the naval and industrial history of the area. Steel is used for the column and bracing system to allow for the thinnest columns possible, giving the structure an air of lightness while highlighting the wood structure of the ceiling. The use of CLT as a decking material for the roof results in large spans and large overhangs reaching up to 6 ft. in both directions. The hybrid approach enabled the terminal to take advantage of the different qualities of wood and steel, using the right material in the right place.

Overseas, the Norderney Port Terminal serves the North Sea German island of the same name. The island is a popular destination for nature watchers. Designed to blend seamlessly into the island’s surroundings, the curved structure of the terminal, whose envelope was constructed with reinforced concrete walls, found its counterpart in the roof, which was planned radially in the form of two shell circles running in opposite directions, connected to each other via an intermediate structure. Consisting of glulam arch girders and prefabricated, partly conical, glulam and CLT elements, the roof’s self-supporting arched truss construction results in a 43,000 sq.ft. free-span hall.

Designed to meet the needs of the growing Helsinki–Tallinn sea traffic, West Terminal 2 at the Port of Helsinki aims to combine functionality with high-level architecture and design to create a modern hub for its millions of international passengers. Efficiency and durability were prime concerns, and the reflection of the sun off the sea through the windows created a need for glare-reducing design and material. Thin slats of Thermory benchmark pine were chosen to complete the curved, sloping ceiling, that is up to 30 ft. high in some areas. The slopes of the ceiling help direct passenger traffic while its high Solar Reflectance Index significantly reduces glare within the open area.

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1. Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal PHOTO: Benjamin Benschneider 2. Lévis Ferry Terminal PHOTO: Stéphane Groleau 3. Norderney Port Terminal PHOTO: W. u. J. Derix GmbH & Co. 4. West Terminal 2 PHOTO: Thermory
1 3 4 2
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Vancouver, BC

Construction of the Gateway at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is underway. The $180-million building, designed by Perkins&Will and Schmidt Hammer Lassen,

will be the “principal point of entry” to the UBC campus. The 267,000-sq.ft. mass timber project will comprise two five-story wings that connect with a central six-story atrium. Completion is set for 2024.

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Courtesy of Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects / Vismo


San Antonio, TX

The NBA’s San Antonio Spurs have a new practice facility: The Rock at La Cantera. It’s slated to open in August this year. In November 2022, 20 new mass timber beams were installed over what will become the new basketball courts. The Rock is a multi-phase, $500-million legacy project that will extend across 45 acres and include a human performance research center, a public outdoor event plaza, and spaces for medical, hospitality, and office use.

Denver, CO

Denver’s tallest mass timber building is planned to break ground in July this year. The 12-story project—named Return to Form—will be located in the city’s River North Arts District. The structure, comprising glulam panels, will feature 84 various-sized dwelling units, four of which will be affordable housing. The ground floor facilities will include a café, lobby, gym, and co-working spaces. The project will utilize Douglas fir from the Pacific Northwest.

Des Moines, IA

A new building—called Star Lofts—is set to be built on the former site of the Star Gas Station. This mixed-use, three-story building—a total of 22,500 sq.ft.—will contain first-floor retail and 20 affordable housing units (studio, onebedroom, and two-bedroom) on the second and third floors. The project will use mass timber structural systems and wood-framed walls. Construction will begin this spring, with occupancy set for the end of this year.

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Courtesy of ID8 Architects Courtesy of Tres Birds

Portland, ME

LEVER Architecture has won the international competition to design an expansion of the Portland Museum of Art. The firm beat out three other finalist teams in a competition of 104 total entries from 20 different countries. The expansion will include construction of a new wing—primarily built from sustainably sourced mass timber—and improvements to the museum’s four current buildings. The $100-million project will add roughly 60,000 sq.ft. of space to the museum.

Madison, WI

LL Capital Markets will provide the construction financing for Bakers Place, a $73.83-million mass timber apartment in Madison. The 14-story building will total 164,707 rentable sq.ft. There will be studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, as well as roughly 8,400 sq.ft. of

retail space. The community amenities will include a library, a co-working space, and a dog park and grooming station.

INTERNATIONAL Barcelona, Spain

A team from ZGF, MIRAG, and Double Twist won the competition to design a net-positive research center in Barcelona. The center—comprising two mass timber buildings—will form part of the “Ciutadella of Knowledge,” a European nucleus for scientific and cultural innovation. Set to be up and running in 2025, the center will house global experts dedicated to tackling challenges that include biodiversity loss and climate change economics.

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LEVER Architecture, Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art, Maine / Dovetail Design Strategists Rendering by Darcstudio


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Northern Exposure

Sweden’s latest mass timber structure is a celebration of placemaking.

The Sara Cultural Centre in Skellefteå, a city 125 miles south of the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, is the world’s largest mixed-use timber development to date. Constructed of more than 13,000 m 3 of locally sourced timber, the Centre houses a regional theater, museum, art gallery, library, and hotel.

The hotel, standing 75 m, is built from premanufactured 3D modules in CLT, stacked between two elevator cores made of CLT. The other program spaces in the Centre, which have more modest, low- to midrise heights, are built with glulam columns and beams and CLT cores and shear walls. The prefabricated elements were produced in a local factory and assembled on site.

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While it was somewhat natural for the Sara Cultural Centre to be constructed with wood—“It’s a timber city,” says Robert Schmitz, architect with White Arkitekter—it was also natural from an environmental standpoint.

Wood is the only renewable material we have today, continues Schmitz. “How do we face the climate crisis? How can we be part of the solution? We have to find new ways to build. We have to think differently.”

The design team did think differently on this project, as the integrated structural design eliminated the need for concrete in the load-bearing structure. This not only accelerated construction time but also reduced the structure’s carbon footprint.

In addition to its inherent sustainability, the Centre is a beautifully successful exercise in placemaking. “I think it’s a genuine example of how to do it,” says Schmitz.

The original site, an old bus station, “was designated for a public building, but [the city] could never find a suitable building,” says Schmitz. “We started with the competition, but the municipality had worked with these questions for years— prior to the competition—asking the people what do you see, what do you need to meet a livable space,” he says.

For the municipality, it was crucial to invest money back into the city, he continues.

“There has to be a combination, something to make the city center more attractive, so that people, businesses could come in,” he says. “They want to attract people that are attracted to a cosmopolitan way of life, but also attracted to nature.”

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Indeed, the Sara Cultural Centre has attracted a number of people. “During the time we were designing the building, the CLT factory doubled its capacity.” In addition, since the Centre’s opening, many green energy companies have located to Skellefteå, providing 3,000-plus new jobs in the region.

The building itself can be used in many different ways and the spaces work independently and together. “When you’re inside the building, everything goes into each other with connected stairs and open spaces,” he says. For example, the main staircase can provide impromptu seating for lunchtime concerts. Together, the facilities will benefit from one another and empower the local community.

As Schmitz puts it, “It is a democratic, ‘unprogrammed’ space for people to use.”


White Arkitekter

Stockholm, Sweden


TK Botnia

Burträsk, Sweden

WSP Sweden

Skellefteå, Sweden


Oslo, Norway


Sven Burman

Ursviken, Sweden

Patrick Degerman

Ursviken, Sweden

Åke Eson Lindman

Bromma, Sweden

Jonas Westling

Skellefteå, Sweden

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Metropol Parasol

One of the world’s largest wooden structures provides much-needed shade and a gathering place for its citizens.

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Encarnación Square Market was bustling with activity in early 19th-century Seville, Spain. Designed by Sevillian architect Melchor Cano, the market contained more than 400 stalls of fresh produce, providing sustenance for the whole city. But over the decades, structural problems with some of the stalls and the inevitable rise of supermarkets left the market waning. In 1973, it was demolished; the area was fenced off, and what was once a vibrant market square became an eyesore in an otherwise charming city.

Fast-forward to 2004. That year, Seville’s city council proposed an international competition to redevelop the square, hoping to return it to its former vibrancy and splendor. German architect Jürgen Mayer won the competition, and the project—originally called Metropol Parasol—is now more lovingly known as Las Setas de Sevilla or Las Setas (the mushrooms).

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“We are a Living Space; each day that passes in our Plaza Mayor is a unique and special day. One more day in which friends, families and tourists return....A place to worship the joyous nature of life itself.”

In 2006, work began with the structure’s wooden deck, which measures 150 m by 70 m and stands 28.5 m tall. It uses micro-laminated Finnish pine, called kerto. This wood consists of 3-mm-thick veneers glued together, offering higher shear strength than solid wood. The timber is protected from the elements with a waterproof polyurethane coating. Incidentally, Mayer had sustainability in mind: for every pine used in the project, three more were planted in the same forests from which they were taken.

In December 2010, the newly renovated Mercado Encarnación opened, followed by the Plaza Mayor and the Antiquarium Museum (designed by Sevillian architect Felipe Palomino González) three months later. In May 2011, with the Footbridges and Viewing Platform opened, Metropol Parasol was complete.

The six large mushroom-shaped timber lattice parasols of this multi-level structure frame the square and provide some relief from the blistering temperatures. The basement includes a platform to view archeological remains in situ from the first century to the Almohad period. The 2,155-sq.m market (with almost 40 stalls, including everything from fish to fruit) has a raised square for performances and shows, and there’s also a

tapas restaurant. From the Footbridges and Viewing Platform, citizens and tourists alike can take in the city sights.

Now over 20 years old, Metropol Parasol still remains a prime example of successful placemaking.



Berlin, Germany



Madrid, Spain


Fernando Alda

Seville, Spain

David Franck

Ostfildern, Germany

Hufton + Crow

Hertford, England

Nikkol Rot

Zürich, Switzerland

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Arc of Triumph

An old football field reaches new heights as a climbing center.

In what might be an old-fashioned way of thinking, people used to compartmentalize the concepts of place and connection. We thought of those things separately and managed our time around them in the same way. We were wrong. Place and connection go hand in hand.

Placemaking embraces the connection people forge with the places they occupy—a value-add proposition that takes a collaborative approach to the places we share in order to increase our shared value of that space.

Such was the thinking around The Arc in Chippenham, England. It’s one of the U.K.’s first purpose-built climbing centers, which reinvigorated a littleused part of the town. The center offers bouldering, roped climbing, outdoor climbing, a skate park, and a café.

To connect community to a particular space, The Arc’s intended purpose was to improve an area that was prone to flooding for a town that had missed out on investment. The community, through a series of meetings and stakeholder discussions, presented alternative visions of what the land could be—the very definition of placemaking. Also key were the ability to translate the vision into a plan and program of uses, and finally to ensure sustainable implementation of that plan.

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In the case of The Arc, the architects at Artel31 used local materials for insulation as well as a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system and photovoltaics to ensure minimal energy demand. The structure and surrounding area include elements of rewilding such as wildflower meadows, flowering and fruiting trees, bee posts, birdhouses, and bat boxes. The project team also made the effort to retain many of the site’s existing trees, as well as plant hundreds more. Limited parking and improved cycle/footpath access to minimize car usage was created, as were recycling areas, EV and EB charge points with low-energy lighting, and air handling units.

Also, the highly insulated fabric uses a combination of composite panes and SIPs for enclosure, which are then clad in local timber. A challenge for the architect team was the floodplain area on which an old football field was situated. “With the building sitting on a floodplain, we needed not only to ensure it and its users were safe in the case of highwater levels, but also to ensure that the site could hold more water after we undertook the work to protect properties downstream,” the team noted.

Another example of its placemaking-led strategy is that The Arc was funded by a local charity with support from Sport England and Wiltshire Council. Nina Gizzie is the regional operations manager at The Climbing Academy. Speaking to the Gazette & Herald newspaper in Wiltshire, she said, “Being able to see the community of Chippenham come and use it regularly without too much push was really great.”

And, after six years of careful planning and construction, The Arc is a raving success. According to the architect team, it has been “a catalyst for change in Chippenham.”



Chippenham, England


Giraffe Engineering

Chippenham, England


The Arc

Chippenham, England

Pete Helme

Bath, England

Joel Kranc is an experienced and award-winning editor, writer, and communications professional. Currently, he serves as director of KRANC COMMUNICATIONS, a full-scale marketing and content firm founded in 2011.

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Factory Made

The all-timber headquarters of this Québec-based company maximizes natural light and creates collaborative spaces.

In 2020, Atelier Guy architectes designed the new head office and factory for SmartMill, a company that conceives next-generation automated systems for the wood-processing industry. The aim of the project was to create a building with an all-timber structure, in line with the company’s vision, and to offer spaces that would not only be functional but also comfortable, bright, and friendly. The use of local wood products at several levels of the project is a testament to SmartMill’s vision.

This new facility was necessary to meet the company’s growing needs and required approximately 2,000 sq.m. of additional space. Serving as a showcase for innovation, the building is

divided into an administrative pavilion facing the street and a factory section that leads into the backyard.

During the pandemic, supply chain difficulties and rising costs influenced the decision to adopt a construction management approach. A general contractor was employed to help control costs and meet the tight deadline. As the client was also the supplier of the raw material, they played an essential role in the planning of the development. Structural engineers helped devise a simple structural frame in order to optimize materials, speed up the fabrication, and remain cost-effective. The project schedule had to be strictly respected

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to avoid disrupting the company’s production activities. The building is centered around a bright outdoor courtyard, brimming with greenery, that allows for the adjacent spaces to benefit from a lot of natural light. The administrative section is equipped with large windows that allow for a direct connection with the central exterior courtyard and the outdoors. Moreover, the circulation spaces along the transparent walls bordering the courtyard accentuate the synergy between the interior and the exterior. The architectural staircase, featuring the company’s vibrant colors, extends through the hall over two floors, giving access to the workspaces on the upper floor. Bathed in natural light, a lounge area and an open workspace

also overlook the courtyard. Closed management offices and meeting rooms—in addition to other secured spaces for support services such as sanitation and IT—run along the periphery of the floor plan.

The administrative section stands out because of its transparency and the lightness of its structure spanning from the entrance to the inner courtyard. Consisting of three large, triangulated sections of glulam elements, the structure offers a column-free span, which allows for great flexibility in the layout. Visible from the street, this structural design contributes to the architectural signature of the project, while subtly echoing the company logo.

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The load-bearing structure of the walls and curtain walls were combined to form the large bays of the administrative section. The regular frame of glulam posts serves both as the main structural system and as support for the windows. Adjacent to the administrative section is the factory, which is directly connected to it through the ground floor. The factory consists of an arched roof made of long, curved glulam trusses to obtain the longest possible span without columns. The impressive resulting space allows for the entire floor area to be cleared for production. It features high ceilings capable of accommodating two overhead cranes required for operations. The simplicity of the all-wood roof and the integration of a large horizontal glass strip in the upper part of the workshop contribute to the remarkable quality of the working environment.

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The majority of the building’s exterior wall cladding is made of Eastern white cedar—a local, durable, and low-maintenance material. Matching joint cover strips were added on certain parts of the façade, giving the wall more texture and creating shadows and light effects. These design choices help to showcase the different facets of wood found throughout the project.

SmartMill’s new headquarters serves as an example of how function and comfort can be equally valued in the creation of a workspace. By using natural materials and maximizing natural light, SmartMill has created generous spaces that encourage collaboration.

matfllc.com Advancing the Art of Timber Construction
ARCHITECT Atelier Guy architectes Québec City, QC STRUCTURAL ENGINEER GÉNIE+ Lévis, QC PHOTOGRAPHY Charles O’Hara Québec City, QC

Home Sweet Home

Two multi-unit residential buildings provide supportive housing for women and their families—and also create a sense of place.

With capital funding from the federal government of Canada’s Rapid Housing Initiative, administered through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., and with support and land provided by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, the YW of Kitchener-Waterloo (YWKW) has created support for homeless women in the community through the construction of a safe, accessible, and inclusive housing development.

EDGE Architects designed 1470 Block Line Rd., YWKW’s 41-unit apartment building constructed with prefabricated CLT structural elements. The local architecture firm also designed a second building right next door at 1480 Block Line Rd., which houses women and their children.

These buildings are a response to the current and growing housing crisis. Homelessness and temporary encampments are a concern in the City of Kitchener, as with many other municipalities. More units are urgently needed, but 1470 Block Line reminds us that even in the rapid delivery of housing, there is still time and opportunity to consider more nuanced outcomes, including placemaking.

“It’s a really interesting study purely from the origins of the projects,” says Matt Bolen, principal at EDGE Architects. “That’s an interesting dynamic in the placemaking relationship,” he says. “It sets up this idea where you can take that vacant, unused, or unwanted portion of land and—through some creative design and collaboration amongst a broad group of stakeholders—make something that fills a dramatic need in this region, as it does in most places.”

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In addition, in close proximity to the apartment buildings are a transit hub, a public library, and a high school, which are not only convenient, but also add a sense of security.

The project’s standard mass timber design is inherently repeatable, according to Bolen, and is well suited to smallerscale midrise developments. And, it can be used in larger centers; smaller, more rural areas; and remote areas. (EDGE Architects currently has two projects in Nunavut.)

“Historically, mass timber has been seen as a high-end product earmarked for high-profile institutional or residential projects,” says Bolen. But he would like to see it used across the housing continuum.

“If we can make mass timber work on transitional supportive housing because it’s so efficient, we can then spread it across the housing continuum up into the market rate and into those models where you actually see financial advantage through some of the aesthetic benefits.”

While the mass timber construction was one important piece of the YWKW build, another was the speed of construction and overall process. “The real innovation was how we did it as fast as we did,” says Bolen. The first building was completed within its one-year contract.

“Housing is desperately needed, and all our conventional knowledge base and experience has reinforced the theme that the longer it takes you to arrive at any given stage in a project, the higher probability there is of something happening that actually stops the project in its tracks,” he says.

“A lot of times people’s resistance to new construction isn’t necessarily the end product,” he continues. “A lot of times, people have resistance to, or fear about, the duration of a construction period—the dust, the noise, the vibration. Shortening that window and focusing on rapid delivery helps that narrative.”


EDGE Architects

Kitchener, ON



Kitchener, ON



Toronto, ON


Riley Snelling

Toronto, ON

Timber Pro Coatings Log & Siding Smooth formula will protect and seal mass timbers with a long-lasting finish.

Portland International Airport is one of the largest mass timber projects in the U.S., with over 2,000,000 square feet of glulam beams. Pictured here are the treated beams more than two years after application of two coats of Timber Pro in our transparent tones. With construction taking over three years to complete, the beams have been exposed to several winters of rain, snow, and freezing rain, consistent jet fuel exhaust, construction dust, and traffic pollution, and weeks of heavy wildfire smoke in the summers.

Our oil-based, waterborne formula is a penetrating stain and sealer in one, with only 34 grams/liter VOCs and no Red List or petroleum derived ingredients.


www.TimberProCoatingsUSA.com or toll free at 1 (888) 888-6095.

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Easy Being Green

A hybrid timber office complex goes biophilic.

Limited by the footprint of an existing warehouse, Fifth + Tillery has become an indoor/outdoor office complex in East Austin, TX, where tenants, and the public, are surrounded by nature rather than cold office decor.

The more than 182,000-sq.ft. building has three stories with outdoor walkways, landscaping, and outdoor balconies, and uses 28,000 ft. of Trespa Pura classic oak siding and soffits, as well as 2,500 ft. of Azek Vintage cypress. Embracing sustainable practices in construction and architecture is more and more part of the thinking around office space, and architecture firm Gensler designed this space around that mindset.

Describing the initial challenges and solutions, Gensler says, “As the design team, we were faced with the challenge of bringing light into a dark industrial building and creating a variety of design resilience strategies that would transform the site into a sustainable destination. We transformed the building from a solid monolithic structure to create more outdoor spaces for circulation, meeting space, and active design strategies that connect office workers to each other and to nature.”

The exterior Douglas fir laminated wood beams support the outdoor walkways of the building’s courtyard and each floor. Continuing the theme of sustainability, leftover cuts of the beams are used for outdoor benches, tables, and chairs to activate these spaces for outdoor meetings and socializing.

Also, because this is Texas and temperatures can soar, the architects looked for sustainable cooling options. By planting a grove of Mexican sycamores, they were able to provide shade to the entry of the plaza, with additional bald cypress trees staggered throughout the courtyard.

But why not provide shade with a dual-purpose solution? The roof is equipped with solar panels that provide over 478 kVA of energy production, which is stored to offset peak demand when energy costs are highest. Gensler estimates this will save nearly US$1.5 million over the building’s lifetime. As a bonus, that solar array doubles as a shade structure.

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Joel Kranc

The environmental impact of water usage was not forgotten in the Fifth + Tillery design. A central rain garden that collects stormwater from the HVAC system directs overflow water to additional rain gardens. The system provides water for landscaped areas that require water but might otherwise be shielded from the rain. A separate water-harvesting system collects condensate water to provide irrigation, and provides the source for water fountains in the building.

Biophilic design—bringing the outdoors inside—has grown in popularity, especially now in the wake of the global pandemic that kept many secluded indoors. The design was not lost on the architects who created a goal for themselves to provide views of nature for all spaces within the building. Besides the grove of trees in the front plaza, they created a water runnel and built a series of rooftop terraces to provide views for the building’s occupants.

As Gensler indicates, “This investment in green spaces creates not only a more resilient building but also a welcoming and healthy environment for tenants and visitors.”



Austin, TX


MJ Structures

Austin, TX


Gensler/Ryan Conway

Austin, TX

Matthew Neimann

San Marcos, TX

Joel Kranc is an experienced and award-winning editor, writer, and communications professional. Currently, he serves as director of KRANC COMMUNICATIONS, a full-scale marketing and content firm founded in 2011.

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Soaring to New Heights

Interested in using wood construction in buildings up to 12 stories?

The Ontario Building Code now has an acceptable solution.

For sustainability, constructability, and aesthetic reasons, design teams and owners throughout Canada (and around the world) are looking to wood to form the structural backbone of their buildings. In Canadian Codes, the permitted building height of traditional light wood frame construction is limited to six stories, while traditional non-combustible construction (concrete and steel) is permitted unlimited height. However, the evolution of new construction techniques and advancements in fire safety science have demonstrated that wood can, in fact, meet the same safety objectives as non-combustible construction in some taller buildings when constructed in specific ways—specifically when configured as encapsulated mass timber construction (EMTC).

In Canada, recognition of EMTC as a new construction type—in addition to conventional non-combustible and combustible construction types—has occurred in various provinces in recent years. For example, British Columbia adopted EMTC provisions in 2019 for specific jurisdictions, and Alberta recognized EMTC in 2020. More recently, in March 2022, EMTC provisions were reflected in the 2020 National Building Code of Canada.

Courtesy of Element5

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Courtesy of Skyscope Courtesy of Element5


As of July 1, 2022, the Ontario Building Code (OBC, or the Code) permits EMTC buildings containing residential (Group C) and business and personal services (Group D) with a maximum height of 12 stories. Examples of buildings classified as major residential occupancies include apartments, dormitories, and hotels. Despite being classified as a residential occupancy, the EMTC OBC provisions are not intended to apply to retirement homes at this time. Examples of Group D major occupancies include offices, beauty parlors, and banks. The requirements of the new OBC provisions permitting Group C and Group D major occupancy buildings of EMTC are summarized in Figure 1.

Mixed-use buildings are permitted to use EMTC provided that the other major occupancy types are confined to lower floor levels, as prescribed by the Code. For example, retail stores are permitted to use EMTC in a Group C or Group D building below the third story.


EMTC is a type of construction in which a degree of fire safety is attained from two key elements: minimum dimensions for structural mass timber elements and encapsulation.

The term structural mass timber elements refers to beams, columns, arches, slabs (floors/roof), and structural loadbearing walls. Structural mass timber elements include a large cross-section of engineered wood products such as solid-sawn mass timber, glulam, CLT, NLT, and structural composite lumber.

To be considered “mass timber” used in EMTC buildings, structural mass timber elements must meet minimum dimensions, arrangement, surface finish, and, in the case of CLT, special adhesive requirements.

A new concept in the OBC, encapsulation refers to surface protection of structural mass timber elements, with an encapsulation material that has an encapsulation rating. This

Maximum Building Height 12 Stories

Maximum Height

42 m

(first floor to uppermost floor)

Sprinkler Protection Required; Fully Sprinklered to NFPA 13

Floor Assembly

Minimum 2-hour Fire-resistance Rating

rating is expressed in minutes and is based on a specified fire test, known as CAN/ULC-S146. The protection is intended to extend the duration of time before mass timber is exposed to elevated temperatures, resulting in a delay of the wood elements igniting and contributing to the fire. There are several materials in the Code that are deemed to provide a specific encapsulation rating such as gypsum board, concrete, and gypsumconcrete topping of certain thicknesses.

Not only do designers and owners want to use wood, they want to visually showcase the wood used in their buildings. However, based on the very definition of EMTC, structural mass

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Major Occupancy Classification Group C Group D Governing Article in the OBC Maximum Building Area
6,000 sq.m 7,200 sq.m
Figure 1 Courtesy of DesignBuildServices

timber elements must be protected by an encapsulation material. The good news is, in some cases, the requirements for encapsulation do not apply, depending upon the type of element, amount, and configuration of the exposed surface and flame spread rating of the exposed area. The permitted percentage of exposed mass timber varies between 10% and 35%, depending on the feature (e.g., wall, ceiling, column) and the specific configuration. For owners who want to exceed these limits, there may be opportunities to work with the design team and develop an alternative solution approach that allows for more wood to be exposed, provided that

the team can demonstrate through a combination of compensating features, analysis, and/or fire testing that the proposed design meets the same level of performance as the permitted conditions in the Code.

EMTC also requires that the mass timber elements be arranged in “heavy solid masses containing no concealed spaces.” However, concealed spaces are inherent in building construction; these spaces may simply be a part of the building construction or may be provided to facilitate installation of building services. The Code recognizes that encapsulating all sides of a concealed space may be challenging and, as such,

provides exemptions for encapsulation in some areas with limited potential for fire spread. Providing sprinkler protection within a concealed space or filling a concealed space with rock fiber insulation are two approaches that would eliminate the need to encapsulate a concealed space.

While there are many more provisions associated with EMTC, the ones highlighted above are the fundamentals. There are various resources available on mass timber as a construction material and on encapsulation techniques for use by designers, contractors, and owners. One such resource, which will be available soon, is the Guide to Encapsulated Mass Timber Construction in the Ontario Building Code (prepared by Morrison Hershfield and the Canadian Wood Council). The purpose of this Guide will be to introduce readers to the new provisions governing EMTC in Ontario, so that readers will be aware of the content, intent, and application of the new provisions.

All buildings constructed under the OBC are required to achieve a minimum level of life safety through a combination of building size restrictions, specified construction materials, and various fire protection features such as sprinkler protection and fire-resistance ratings. As buildings increase in size or hazard, additional requirements are introduced to maintain the minimum level of life safety. EMTC provides a new way for designers and owners to achieve the safety objectives of the Code while using wood to meet their project goals.

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Trisha Ashworth, P.Eng., M.Eng., is principal, senior Code consultant, and Code department manager with Morrison Hershfield Ltd. Vusal Ibrahimli, MASc., EIT, is a Code consultant.

Some Assembly Required

In 1983, Chuck W. Hull patented the first “apparatus for production of three-dimensional objects by stereolithography”—also known as a 3D printer.

It would take decades before 3D printing became more mainstream and commercially viable. Today, this technology, now known as additive manufacturing, is being used at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures & Composites Center in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to produce prototype homes using a combination of a bio-based polymer and residual wood products.

“We work with Oak Ridge National Lab in a program called Hub and Spoke, and through our work we have collaborated on a lot of new material [development]—in particular, bio-based materials used to replace non-bio-based materials,” explains Evan Gilman, chief engineer, additive manufacturing, with the Advanced Structures & Composites Center.

The idea is that the unique bio-based materials can be combined with wood residuals, of which there is an excess of over a million tons produced in the Northeast each year. “[The wood is] not being used but could be, and 3D printing would allow us to utilize this in homes. A lot of our work has been to develop the material to be used for 3D printing. An extension of our materials development project is to demonstrate that [the residual wood] has a useful purpose for something such as a house.”

Most species of wood can be used for this application, and it has been a major focus from the beginning of the program.

With the largest polymer 3D printer in the world, the University of Maine has the ability to make very large additive structures—even as big as houses—with this form of manufacturing.

“What we see, and what this house is a demonstration

of, is an opportunity to solve several problems,” he says. One is Maine’s low-income housing shortage. “There’s a need for at least 20,000 low-income houses right now,” he says. Another is what to do with excess wood residuals. “In Maine, the pulp and paper industry has been shrinking. So the wood residuals that used to be part of pulp and paper [manufacturing] are not being used and are now in excess.”

As a result, there is an opportunity to find a way to use that excess material in something like home construction.

“Additive manufacturing uses this material and provides a great solution because the process can take the wood residuals, turn them into wood fibers, and mix them into the 3D printing material,” Gilman explains. “It’s a way to incorporate those wood residuals that would otherwise not be useful and can’t be used for other conventional building materials.”

3D printing is also less labor intensive and, during a period of economic labor shortages, could provide another way to construct a home without the need for as much labor because the printer is doing more of the work.

“A lot of the work we’re doing is to make this technology viable for more mass production. So not only are we working on the material formulation to make it better, we are working on the design and printing process,” he says. “We do think this can be a competitive technology with more research. We’re not suggesting it will take over home technology, but it is part of the solution.”

Going forward, the university plans to expand its lab facility in the next two to three years to scale up their research capacity to make this technology market ready sooner.

“We want to make [the technology] viable and transition it to industry,” Gilman says. “We will probably make more homes in our effort to refine the technology.”

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PHOTOS: Courtesy of University of Maine’s Advanced Structures & Composites Center
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