TallWood House at Brock Commons

Structural Designer

Fast + Epp

Client Name

UBC Properties Trust

Location

Vancouver, Canada

PRINCIPAL CONTRACTOR: Urban One Builders

ARCHITECT: Acton Ostry Architects

INFRASTRUCTURE AND DEVELOPMENT: University of British Columbia

TALL WOOD ADVISORS: Architekten Hermann Kaufmann

WOOD STRUCTURE ERECTION: Seagate Structures

TIMBER SUPPLIER: Structurlam Products

FIRE SCIENCE AND BUILDING CODE: GHL Consultants Ltd.

VIRTUAL DESIGN MODELLING: CadMakers Inc.

Images: © Naturally Wood, Seagate Structures

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The TallWood House at Brock Commons is an 18-storey mass timber hybrid building at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. Reaching 53m, this student residence building has been recognized as the tallest mass timber hybrid building in the world. It is comprised of 17 storeys of five-ply cross laminated timber (CLT) floor panels, glue laminated timber columns, and a concrete transfer slab at level two. Two full height concrete cores provide the lateral stability.

Judge's comment:

Wood is being used more and more for the structure of buildings in our search for sustainable construction and low “embodied energy”. This has usually been limited to two or three storey buildings, using effectively Victorian technology. For multi-storey buildings in wood the structural framing has usually depended on walls supporting one-way spanning floors.

Tallwood House is a complete innovation – an 18-storey building for student residences at the University of British Columbia – made almost entirely of wood, with no structural walls or beams. The frame consists of “cross laminated” timber floor panels supported only at their corners on timber columns. This has never been done before, and the engineers, Fast+Epp, had to carry out extensive testing and get panel manufacturers to use specific timber in the manufacture.

Engineers carried out 18 full size tests with the University of British Columbiao prove that the system would work. A completely new system of construction special connection details had to be developed to allow the building to be erected quickly and economically. In fact, the timber frame went up in nine weeks. To establish that this was not just an academic exercise Fast+Epp tested the cost against the more conventional concrete frame and showed that their design was economical.

This is a brilliant piece of original engineering, which will advance our understanding of timber technology.