This two-storey community centre is located at the heart of the new Wesbrook Place neighbourhood on the Vancouver campus of the University of British Columbia. The building includes fitness facilities, multipurpose rooms, a teen centre, a dance studio, a child-minding centre and a cafe. In addition to providing recreational opportunities, the broader ambition for the project was to support and enrich the social and cultural life of the community, offering a place for small scale gatherings, community events and celebrations. The building’s structure is organized around a central atrium, with the gymnasium, fitness and teen centres to the north. There are meeting and multipurpose rooms to the south and adjacent to the main entrance is the dance studio perched above the cafe. The main floor of the building is clad in splitfaced granite with accent panels of western red cedar, chosen to reflect the character of the village and the forest landscape of nearby Pacific Spirit Park. The upper floor is clad in aluminum panels whose soft reflections give the building a sense of lightness. In keeping with the university’s sustainability agenda, the building is designed to meet an energy use target of 160kW/hr/m2 per year, consistent with a LEED Gold standard. This has been achieved through the specification of a high performance building envelope, a window to wall ratio of only 40%, daylight harvesting, passive ventilation, and high efficiency heating and cooling recovery systems.
The community centre is an example of hybrid construction in which glue-laminated (glulam) beams and columns, cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, steel and concrete are combined for optimal structural performance, economy and visual effect. At the north end of the building, the gymnasium is a double height (10.5 metres high) space, constructed using exposed glulam beams, glulam columns and 5-ply CLT walls. The arched glulam roof beams span 21 metres across the gym with cantilevers at both ends. The CLT walls provide lateral stability to the structure. On the east and west sides of the gym, the walls are full height, while those on the north and south sides are shorter, with clerestory windows above. On these sides, lateral load is transferred from the roof to the CLT walls with steel rod cross-bracing. At the south end of the building, CLT is also used for the floor, walls and roof of the upper level dance studio, which takes the form of a box that cantilevers 3.8 metres out from the building above the ground floor cafe. The soffit of the 7-ply floor panels is exposed and forms the ceiling of the cafe. Similarly, the surfaces of the 5-ply wall panels are exposed within the dance studio itself. The remainder of the south portion consists of steel columns supporting glulam beams with composite steel deck and concrete floor and roof structures. Lateral resistance is again provided by steel cross-bracing. Between the north and south portions of the building, the atrium features both a bridge and a staircase that combine glulam structural members (beams and stringers) with metal deck and concrete topping. The atrium roof is supported on glulam beams suspended on steel rods from the cantilevered portion of the gymnasium roof above.
“When people visit the building and see the atrium for the first time, they comment on how warm the wood makes it feel. When the natural light coming in from three sides reflects off the wood walls and floors, the effect in both spaces is extraordinary.”University Neighbourhoods Association
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.