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4 Buildings That Wow With Wood

Rather than playing fetch with it, how about turning that piece of wood into an architectural masterpiece. Wood WORKS! BC handed out awards honouring excellence in wood building and design earlier this month, and we've picked four projects we find particularly wood-tastic.

1. Mountain Equipment Co-op HQ


Award: Commercial Wood Design

Location: 1077 Great Northern Way

Architect: Hugh Cochlin, Proscenium Architecture + Interiors Inc.

Specs: 112k SF all-wood building, which we featured in December, has a fir structure, glued laminated timber (glulam) columns and beams, and a nail-laminated timber floor deck that uses more than 1M board feet of lumber.

Why it won: The jury praised the building's “restrained beauty,” appropriate “for the flagship of a large company making a strong environmental statement.” The project shows how heavy timber construction could once again become the system of choice for commercial buildings.

2. Sail


Award: Multi-Unit Residential Wood Design

Location: 5983 Gray Ave, University of BC campus

Developer: Adera Development

Specs: The first six-storey wood-frame structure on UBC's campus, with 172 apartments. The project makes extensive use of natural renewable materials. Double kiln-dried plates reduce shrinkage.

Why it won: Sail’s “dynamic” entrance canopy caught the jury’s attention, with detailed glulam structural beams and “striking” wood soffits. Multi-terraced reflecting ponds provide “drama and beauty” leading up to the building's glass lobby.

3. Wood Innovation and Design Centre


Award: Wood Innovation

Location: University of Northern BC, Prince George 

Architect: Michael Green Architecture

Specs: Wood sourced from sustainably managed forests. Almost no concrete is used in the building above the ground floor slab. Wood structure is exposed as ceiling finish. 

Why it won: The project is a “milestone in the advocacy of increasingly taller wood structures,” the jury noted. The building's form is “rational and restrained, allowing the beauty of wood to shine through.” The exterior is inspired by bark peeling from a tree trunk.

4. UBCO Fitness and Wellness Centre


Award: Institutional Wood Design

Location: UBC Okanagan, Kelowna

Architect: McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd.

Specs: Two-storey athletic training facility uses cross-laminated timber (CLT) jointing and detailing techniques. Deep slender CLT beams are slotted together to form a structural grid. 

Why it won: The centre is a “striking and beautifully formed design statement" that prompts users to reconsider wood's potential, the jury said. Architecture is light-filled, efficient and inviting, key to spurring motivation within gym-goers.