All levels of government in British Columbia (B.C.) are leading by example, showcasing what’s possible with wood construction and demonstrating the importance of sustainable building.
Through its Wood First Act, the province of B.C. encourages public institutions to consider using wood in construction where appropriate. Since the act was introduced about a decade ago, more than 50 B.C. municipalities have adopted wood-first resolutions, policies or bylaws—promoting locally sourced timber construction as a way to take action against climate change.
Wood has become the predominant structural and finishing material for fire halls, municipal buildings, police stations and libraries throughout the province. Wood harvested from sustainably managed forests has many inherent benefits; it’s a sturdy building material, a natural insulator, good for health and well-being, and fast and efficient for construction.
Former City of Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis said he wants people to see the many benefits and beauty of wood—and to understand that it’s a safe and durable material we can use with confidence.
“Living in British Columbia and understanding our connection both economically and socially around wood is really important,” said Garis. “It’s everywhere and it’s a large part of who we are.”
Qualicum Beach Fire Hall
The Qualicum Beach Fire Hall on the east coast of Vancouver Island makes extensive use of wood-frame construction, demonstrating wood is fire-safe, resilient, and cost-effective — all considerations for the municipality. The building’s wood frame uses laminated veneer lumber (LVL) panels for its upper floor and roof systems; the use of LVL is estimated to have cut construction time by more than half compared to a conventional steel or concrete system. The vast majority of wood for the project, conceived by Johnston Davidson Architecture + Planning Inc., was locally sourced.
Richmond City Hall
Richmond City Hall was one of the first major civic buildings in the province to prominently feature a wood and heavy-timber structure as its defining architectural statement. The building’s soaring galleria structure is a series of Douglas-fir glue-laminated timber (glulam) portal frames with heavy timber decking. The architect of record was DIALOG, and KPMB Architects was the associate architect on the project.
Summerland RCMP Detachment
In the Okanagan, the Summerland RCMP detachment used traditional wood-frame construction with exposed solid-sawn lumber as both a structural and a finishing material. The glulam post-and-beam structure, design by KMBR Architects Planners Inc., also uses light-wood-frame construction for the walls. The eye-catching entrance canopy is built of nail-laminated timber (NLT).
Whistler Public Library
The Whistler public library is a fresh and modern structure that works within the resort municipality’s design guidelines. The HCMA Architecture + Design project features a solid-wood roof system composed of prefabricated panels made of solid hemlock members that span distances of up to 14 metres. Innovative use of hemlock in its construction demonstrates the commercial viability of the abundant, yet underused species. Reclaimed Douglas-fir millwork enhances the warm feeling of the interior.
These projects and others are featured in Naturally Wood, a book that showcases British Columbia’s cutting‐edge wood architecture and design. The beautifully illustrated, 160-page publication contains more than 65 innovative wood buildings and projects, including how wood is being used in public and institutional buildings.
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Four continuing education units have been developed based on the book. They are recognized by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. Get started.
The Town of Qualicum Beach’s extensive use of wood-frame construction in their fire hall makes a definitive statement that wood is not only safe against fire, but is resilient, cost effective, and, as a natural insulator, a source of notable energy savings.
Photo: Bob Matheson
The form of Whistler Public Library makes good use of its site’s orientation to the sun, while reclaimed Douglas-fir millwork enhances the warm feeling of the interior.
Photo: Martin Tessler
All levels of government in British Columbia (B.C.) are leading by example, showcasing what’s possible with wood construction and demonstrating the importance of sustainable building. Through its Wood First Act, the province of B.C. encourages public institutions to consider using wood in construction where appropriate. Since the act was introduced about a decade ago, more […]
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An increasing number of health-care facilities are incorporating wood to provide patients and visitors with a warm, natural aesthetic, and a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature.
Research begins to show the biophilic benefits of wood, which suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Study results show students who spent time in rooms featuring natural wood exhibited lower stress reactivity. During all three periods of the study, stress, as measured by sympathetic nervous system activation, was measurably lower on average in the rooms featuring wood than in the non-wood office.
The bold, striking use of wood throughout the space — uncommon in such health-care settings— softens the hospital’s institutional feel and creates a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature, while standing up to weather, wear and tear, and rigorous maintenance. As the research on biophilic benefits of wood continues to grow, one of B.C.’s busiest hospitals leads the way in offering patients a comforting, supportive, and healing environment.
For architect and timber advocate Peter Busby, wood is one of nature’s greatest innovations
B.C. forest products are a predominant structural and finishing material for a wide range of transit infrastructure throughout the province, including airports, bus exchanges and SkyTrain stations. Learn more about the use of wood in transportation projects.
Learn about the latest wood design and construction trends within these four building applications while earning Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) recognized continuing learning units towards professional development.
With its wide-ranging use of different wood species, the Prince George Airport demonstrates how a high-traffic building can benefit from the resilience, versatility, durability, and thermal characteristics of wood. These were important considerations for this northern city, situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, which is prone to cold, harsh winters.
An effective insulator with a warm aesthetic, wood is particularly well suited to the demanding atmospheres of swimming pools — as well as ice rinks in arenas. Wood tolerates high levels of humidity, offers acoustic and thermal benefits, and absorbs and releases water vapour without compromising its structural integrity. Indoor pool design has evolved to include ample use of natural light and bold, innovative uses of B.C. wood from sustainably managed forests.
Interview with Darryl Condon, Managing Principal of HCMA Architecture + Design, who has embraced and often pioneered the use of wood and mass timber in community, civic, and recreational aquatic facilities throughout British Columbia and Canada. He shares why wood is often an integral material in the buildings they design, and how they’ve pushed the boundaries of what is possible with wood.
Located in John Hendry Park in east Vancouver, this ice rink was the first phase in the replacement of an aging community centre facility. The rink served as a practice facility for competitors who participated in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and opened for public use after the Games.