The modern emergence of mass timber
With more concern being placed upon building sustainability, mass timber is emerging as a renewable construction material with high durability and versatility that can add significant value to a building.
Once used modestly, mass timber has increasingly become a primary material of choice thanks to technological advancements. Canada building codes are changing to allow for taller structures made predominantly of mass timber, opening the way for some of the most innovative, beautiful, and sustainable structures our cities have ever known.
Here are some examples of buildings designed and built with mass timber in order to demonstrate wood as a renewable building material and showcase these buildings’ sustainable design.
Clayton Community Centre
The Clayton Community Centre in Surrey, British Columbia is a 78,000 sq. ft., two-storey building. It features a library, gymnasium, fitness centre, art spaces, childcare, and more under a heavy timber roof that is a reciprocating frame composed of an assembly of pinwheel shaped modules of glulam beams. This two-way wood system approach allows the wood structure to span to columns with no need for dropped beams, achieving a unique and fascinating architectural expression. The Centre has achieved the Passive House energy standard and is anticipated to be one of the largest Passive House buildings of this type in North America.
TRCA Administrative Building
The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) new headquarters in Toronto, Ontario focuses on sustainable design through its mass timber construction and other design features. The project is targeting Net Carbon Zero, LEED Platinum Status, Toronto Green Standard Level 2, and Well Silver Certification, and looks to achieve these certifications because of its incorporation of sustainable designs like water walls, solar chimneys, and a highly efficient and sustainable building envelope system.
Also located in Toronto, 80 Atlantic is the first mass timber commercial building to be constructed in Toronto in over a century. It is comprised of cast-in-place concrete to the second floor and the next four floors constructed of Nail-Laminated Timber floor deck supported by glulam columns and beams. Exposed mass timber structural elements showcase the beauty of the wooden construction.
The facility features retail, support, and lobby space on the ground floor and office space in the upper floors, with the final product being a mass timber construction and design for office use, a visually appealing building layout, while remaining cost effective and promoting sustainable construction practices.
These buildings are just some examples of the possible utilizations of mass timber in construction projects and showcase the safety, versatility, beauty, durability, and sustainability of wood.
“As both a structural and decorative element, timber provides a warm and natural aesthetic unlike anything else on the market,” says Mark Ritchie, a Principal with RJC Engineers. “Research is showing human exposure to natural, organic materials like wood, has a calming effect and may play a significant role in our health and wellness. It is also the only renewable building material that is harvested from responsibly managed forests, making it an environmentally‐conscious choice among builders.”
Learn more about the benefits of wood design.