Social and Environmental Sustainability in Action

Social and Environmental Sustainability in Action

Over the last few decades there has been a renaissance in the use of wood, specifically mass-timber construction, driven by innovations in new engineered wood products, design tools and construction practices. UBC is a leader in wood construction practices not only through academic research, but also in the use of engineered wood products for our academic, utility, athletic and residential buildings. The newest addition to the campus portfolio is the Brock Commons Tallwood Houseā€”an 18-storey student residence with a hybrid mass-timber structure.

Brock Commons was the first in North America to use mass-timber products in a residential high-rise, and is the tallest contemporary wood building in the world (for now). It is composed of prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panel floor assemblies supported on glue-laminated timber (GLT) and parallel strand lumber (PSL) columns with steel connections, and a steel roof deck.

During the summer of 2016, the mass-timber structure was assembled on site. Using innovative virtual design and construction modelling to assist with the construction planning and techniques (such as prefabrication and just-in-time delivery) the wood structure was assembled in record time. Each wood element was precut to the appropriate size so the entire structure fit together like a kit of parts. On average, crews assembled two floors per week, and completed the entire structure in 9.5 weeks.

Brock Commons also offers an important space for research and education. An ongoing research project has been studying the design and construction of the building. An education and outreach centre, established by USI-CIRS, provided an opportunity for visitors to learn about this innovative project. Over the course of the year, over 1300 visitors from over 12 countries came to learn about Brock Commons. This included students, researchers and educators, design professionals, representatives from the construction and forestry industries, and government officials.