A most uncommon building…

#140 [00:23:40] | 18.11.2016 | 0 comments
Russell Acton

September 2016 saw the completion of the world’s tallest mass wood structure: Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the beautiful city of Vancouver on Canada’s west coast.

The structure is a hybrid system of CLT floor slabs, glulam columns, steel connectors and a concrete core. It stands at 18 storeys and 53m high – the maximum height permitted on campus. This stage of construction was completed four months ahead of schedule, and took under 70 days. The focus is now on the interiors, which are scheduled for completion in May 2017. The building will house 404 students.

Michael Hammond, WAN’s Editor in Chief, recently spoke to Russell Acton, Principal at Vancouver-based Acton Ostry Architects who were the brains behind the building, in close collaboration with structural engineer Fast + Epp, tall wood advisor Architekten Hermann Kaufmann of Austria, and Structurlam in Penticton BC.

Russell tells us more about that collaboration and how crucial it has been to the success of the project. A sense of realism seems to have driven the design – Brock Commons was not intended to be a visionary building, but rather a ‘handsome background building that was very economical’. (It only had a modest budget attached to it.)

Russell explains to Michael what makes the system the team created unique (in short, the absence of beams – but listen in to hear the detail). He goes on to describe how he envisages this new approach being successfully rolled out to other parts of the world, even those without the vast timber resources of North America.

Finally, Michael asks Russell the inevitable question: can such wood buildings go higher still using the innovative engineering we see at Brock Commons? Tune in for the answer…

Gail Taylor
Features Editor

WAN AWARDS – Wood in Architecture Award 2016 is now open for entries.

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