At the 16th annual Wood WORKS! celebration in Toronto, a selected group of Ontario’s leading architects, engineers, and project teams received the Wood Design Awards, which honour people and organizations that, through design excellence, advocacy, and innovation, are advancing the use of wood in all types of construction.
“The winning projects of this year’s program showcase the many benefits of wood construction such as sustainability, versatility, and cost-effectiveness,” said Marianne Berube, executive director of the Ontario Wood WORKS! program.
Thirteen awards were presented at Ontario Wood WORKS!, of which 10 went to specific wood projects and three were given to professionals for contributions to the building industry that advance the case for wood design and construction.
“Wood use is definitely increasing in the province and around the world, and not just because codes now permit its use in a wider range of buildings,” said Berube. “Wood has significant environmental advantages over competing materials and, with construction professionals and designers seeking lower carbon building alternatives and renewable materials, they are increasingly motivated to build with wood.”
Prefabrication is also creating interesting new opportunities for wood construction, demonstrating that wood can outpace even its own relatively quick construction speed. In many applications, designers and developers are reporting significant time and cost savings. Today’s wood products are more technologically advanced than ever and project teams are using these high-performance building materials in exciting ways, actively and imaginatively exploring wood’s expanding potential.
Wood WORKS! is a national, industry-led initiative of the Canadian Wood Council that promotes and supports the use of wood in all types of construction. Working with the design community, Wood WORKS! connects practitioners with resources related to the use of wood in commercial, industrial, institutional and multi-unit residential construction, assists in product sourcing, and delivers educational seminars and training opportunities to existing and future practitioners.
Winter Station 2016 Steam Canoe, Toronto, ON
Architect: OCAD Design Team
Ontario Wood Award | Sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
The shell of the canoe-inspired structure is composed of timber panels made from Spruce and Oak laminated together by the use of Grip Metal, a type of Metal Velcro Fastening System manufactured by NUCAP Industries. The Grip Metal is an innovative bonding system with micro hooks to allow for the custom wood sandwich assembly bonding mechanically without the use of adhesives. It creates a very strong, instant, light-weighted panel that is cost-effective, easy and very fast to manufacture without any formwork in a roll press system.
The three layers of wood are first cut to dimension and then laid perfectly on top of each other with two pre-cut continuous layers of grip metal between the exterior Oak veneer and core Spruce lumber. The assembled panel is then rolled under high pressure into an instantly stable Press Laminated Timber Panel with the teeth of the grip metal creating the instant bond.
The pavilion shell made from these strong but light weight Press Laminated Timber Panels eliminated the need to have a structural frame system holding the skin. The skin became the structure of this building with all panels acting in union connected to each other by custom-made aluminium brackets.
Upper Thames River Conservation Authority – Community Conservation Centre, London, ON
Architect: Randy Wilson Architect Incorporated
Engineer: Hastings & Aziz Ltd.
Environmental Building Wood Design Award | Sponsored by Resolute Forest Products
Constructed on a mitigated Brownfield site nestled within an urban conservation area, this 3800m2 multi-purpose building preserves the existing environment and respects regulated requirements of flood plains, heritage zones and other environmentally sensitive areas. The design responds to Fanshawe Park Lake to the north, defined as the “entry point” for an urban river and flood control system and part of a larger regional environmental corridor. The building achieved LEED Platinum status, consistent with the philosophy and mandate of the client.
The interior and exterior spaces are designed to encourage social interaction and to blend with the exterior landscape to reinforce a connection to the environment. This is achieved through a contemporary approach and emphasis on the use of natural materials. Wood is predominant, not only in the roof support structure, but also throughout the building in enhancing and contrasting finishes.
Within the building, spaces have been dedicated to education, nature interpretation, and community use. The architecture expresses the use and connection of material types, all exposed to entice investigation of the possibilities of design and construction techniques. While the building is designed as a post-disaster facility, all interior spaces, even underground Wet Lab and Flood Control rooms, have corridor-facing glazing to provide transparency from inside the building to the outside environment. This design parameter to have the building “turn out” to the environment has proved very successful, and truly connects the building’s interior spaces.
First Ontario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines, ON
Architect: Diamond Schmitt Architects
Interior Wood Design Award | Sponsored by Boise Cascade
This 95,000-square-foot cultural complex comprises of four versatile, state-of-the-art venues that can host a wide range of functions including performances, corporate and community events, conferences and galas. The centre plays a key role in the renaissance of downtown St. Catharines, serving as catalyst for a diverse cultural cluster in need of venues.
The main, wood-lined, 780-seat Partridge Hall is designed for many different types of performances. Wood was deemed the most effective material to provide a reflective surface to enhance the acoustic clarity of the room as well as create a sense of quality and craftsmanship. Locally-sourced red oak forms the curved panel elements on the walls and ceilings, giving acoustic shape to the room. Pivoting acoustic panels line the stage sides and ceiling and can be raised or lowered to carefully calibrate the performance to the hall’s dimensions so that patrons not only hear well but also feel and experience the music within an intimate setting.
A series of hard-surfaced reflective elements have been integrated into the architecture of the room to diffuse sound towards the audience. The wood stage also has the ability to act as a resonator for bass-stringed instruments pegged into the floor. The wood stage is comprised of a fixed steel framework with a resilient wood floor system that has an open wood cavity. When heavy stringed instruments are inserted into the bass pegs, the open wood cavity amplifies the sound from these instruments.
Bridgehouse, Port Sydney, ON
Architect: LLAMA Architecture and Urban Design
Residential Wood Design Award | Sponsored by Ontario Structural Wood Association
Conceived as a horizontal line to counterpoint its setting atop a ravine, the 2,400 square foot Bridgehouse is both a dwelling and an object that compliments and emphasizes the natural condition of its territory. The open plan living room at its centre is suspended 5m above forest floor, acting as a viewing gallery that places the user within the tree canopy to witness the four seasons of Ontario’s constantly changing landscape.
The key structural element is the glue-laminated Douglas-fir struts that push the boundaries of wood as a material, allowing the bridge to span 18 metres across a ravine. The design permits the house to have a structure free lakefront façade that includes a 12 metre long sliding door system that converts the living room into a covered porch when opened. The rear strut doubles as the stringer for a staircase connecting the main floor to a 2000 square foot roof deck.
Unlike a traditional house, the Bridgehouse has a bottom, or a fifth façade. This, along with the exterior walls, is clad in unstained cedar intentionally left to weather naturally. This celebrates the resiliency of the material, giving the house a dynamic character, designed to change.
Templar Flats, Hamilton, ON
Architect: Lintack Architects Inc.
Engineer: Strik Baldinelli Moniz
Multi-Unit Wood Design Award | Sponsored by Weyerhaeuser
Templar Flats is a unique urban infill project that combines the adaptive reuse of two existing structures with new construction in between them to create a uniquely attractive building. The upper floors are comprised of 25 spacious rental residences, while the street level offers four new restaurant spaces. This mixed-use building was the first 6-storey wood-frame project completed in Ontario under the new mid-rise code provisions.
St. Elias Ukrainian Catholic Church, Brampton, ON
Architect: Zimmerman Workshop Architecture + Design
Engineer: Moses Structural Engineers
Institutional- Commercial Wood Design Award < $10 M | Sponsored by Carpenters & Allied Workers Local 27
This heavy timber church is modelled after the architectural style known as “Boyko,” from the western part of Ukraine. This distinctive style features iconic copper clad domes visible from a great distance.
The heavy timber (glulam) and wood construction on a concrete and stone base comprises the entirety of the building, including each of the five domes. The timber construction portion of the building measures over 75 feet in height (approximately a 7 storey building) from the base up to the foot of the highest cross.
The dramatic copper-clad domes are built from a hybrid of glulam, stick frame, and curved plywood. The largest of the five domes weighs over 18,000 kg (just under 20 tons) and bears directly on a 13 meter by 13-meter-long span glulam space-frame truss. Domes and copper were constructed on the ground and lifted with a 260-ton crane into position.
Rock Garden Visitor Centre, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, ON
Architect: CS&P Architects
Engineer: WSP Canada Inc.
Institutional- Commercial Wood Design Award >$10 M | Ontario Forest Industries Association
The RBG Rock Garden Visitor Centre is the compelling new entry point into the revitalized David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden. Wood was selected for the main spaces of the 9,074 sq. ft. Visitor Centre because a heavy timber frame easily accommodated the complex curvilinear shapes of the design. The wood structure of columns and beams also suited the context of the largely transparent, pavilion-like building in the middle of a garden surrounded by nature. The glulam timber frame is attractive and provides a distinctive and memorable form that evokes the tree and leaf shapes of the garden.
The glulam wood structure was an economical solution competitively bid by a number of suppliers. All wood framing members were fabricated off site so the quality control was high and erection on site was quick, even in the winter season. The glulam structure took a team of 4 people only two weeks to erect.
Woodland Public School, Near North District School Board, North Bay, ON
Architect: Mitchell Architects
Engineer: WSP Canada Inc.
Northern Ontario Excellence Award | Sponsored by FedNor
Situated next to a 17-acre urban forest, the design of Woodland Public School draws inspiration from the forest landscapes of Northern Ontario to create an environment of warmth and beauty, while supporting and celebrating the wood culture so important to the area.
The design features heavy timber roof construction in all the core areas, including the lobby, gymnasium, library, and main stairway. The wood creates a warm and welcoming environment within the school while meeting code requirements for non-combustible construction. Heavy timber glue-laminated columns are also featured prominently as a facade element at the library, acting as sun-shading devices while echoing the verticality of the nearby trees. Wood composite panels used in vertical elements on the facade further this design language, bringing the warmth and beauty of wood to the exterior while minimizing maintenance costs.
The interior of the school also features the extensive use of maple veneer and solid wood elements; maple veneer wall paneling provides a durable yet beautiful wall finish in high traffic public areas, solid maple benches with maple veneer cubbies above provide a place for students to change their shoes and store their bags, while maple veneer millwork throughout the facility brings a high-quality atmosphere to the classrooms and staff spaces.
La Ruche: Collaborative and Experiential Lab, Ottawa, ON
Project and Design Lead: La Cité
Jury’s Choice Award (1) | Sponsored by LP Building Products
CLT was the key material for this unique mini-project that serves as a pop-up space for education, collaboration, promotion, and exhibitions. The inherently durable wood structure is capable of withstanding multiple trips in and around the region; the solid shell is easily fastened to the trailer base for transport. The CLT was also very easy to work with for non-standard glazing, ceiling cutouts, electrical layout and lighting schemes, all while maintaining a stylish wood finish. The use of wood enhances the space and promotes natural materials. It is reminiscent of Canadian landscapes and ingenuity, is easily recyclable, and can be re-finished as needed. The use of CLT in this particular design exemplifies new and innovative fabrication and construction methods borne of the” Tiny Home” movement.
Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, New Elementary School, Cape Croker, ON
Architect: MMMC Architects Inc.
Jury’s Choice Award (2) | Sponsored by Tembec
This new school was designed and situated to respond to the remote location and rugged beauty of the western shores of Georgian Bay. The building’s form and structure were discussed extensively and developed with the participation of the Chippewas of Nawash. Great care was taken to respond respectfully to the sensitivities of the land and the culture of the First Nation.
The main structure is heavy timber hybrid with heavy timber beams and roof deck. Supplementary steel columns and bracing were used where practical or more cost effective. A ceremonial space is located centrally within the school on symbolic crossroads to the Place of Knowledge. Equipped with simple earth sourced materials including stone and wood, the volume is generous and tall, like ancient forests. Silhouettes of thunderbirds cast shadows to the north mimicking monumental cliffs of the surrounding land. Minimalist wooden benches furnish the space which is dedicated to the ancestors and history of the First Nation.
Wooden screens inspired by indigenous motifs are used throughout the common areas to control noise and screen mechanical systems from public view. The screens, reminiscent of woven baskets, enhance the spirit of the structure and connect this new building with local culture and heritage.
Michael Baldinelli, Strik Baldinelli Moniz
Engineer Wood Advocate Award | Sponsored by FPInnovations
In 2014, with the changes to the Ontario Building Code on the horizon, Michael Baldinelli, Principal of SBM traveled to British Columbia to investigate the 5/6-storey design of wood framed buildings. From that visit, the firm determined that the engineering world lacked sufficient design software to design these types of buildings under seismic and wind loading conditions. Ultimately, an in-house design software program was developed. Over 3500 ‘engineering’ hours were put into the development of the program which not only analyzes the building to meet 2012 OBC /2015 NBCC requirements but also incorporates the material/labor costs simultaneously during the design process. The end product is a code compliant building that is optimized to ensure the most cost effective design has been achieved, the first of its kind in the world.
Michael is a trailblazer in the industry; a frequent lecturer about and active proponent of wood-frame mid-rise construction. Strik Baldinelli Moniz (SBM) has designed wood buildings since its inception in 2004. The firm has completed over 35 commercial wood structures that vary in height from 1-6 stories. SBM believes wood will always be at the forefront of low to mid-rise wood construction and as engineering practices evolve it will move into high-rise development.
SBM has completed the design of four 5/6-storey wood framed buildings and has another 5 in the design phase. SBM was the engineering firm responsible for Templar Flats in Hamilton, the first 6-storey wood framed building completed in Ontario.
Ian MacDonald Architect, Toronto, ON
Architect Wood Advocate Award | Sponsored by Timber Systems Limited
The Architect Wood Advocate Award recognizes an individual architect or architectural firm who contributes consistently uses wood in projects, overcomes objections to the use of wood in projects, and leads the way for future projects in wood. This year’s winning architect has used wood as a key structural element in many projects since the firm was established in 1984, including Go Home Bay Cabin and House in Grey Highlands. HIs includes projects of varied scale and mixed use with an emphasis on residential work. The clarity and honesty of the exposed wood in his projects strikes a perfect balance between dramatic and refined, showcasing wood to its greatest potential while still allowing it to speak for itself. Ian MacDonald was selected for the Architect award for his body of work. He consistently uses wood elegantly and expressively to create some of the most beautiful interiors in Ontario.
Mike Yorke, President, Carpenters & Allied Workers Local 27
Wood Champion Award | Sponsored by Natural Resources Canada
When the building code changed last January, Mike Yorke recognized an urgent need for training in mid-rise wood-frame construction practices. To meet the need he led his organization to launch a mid-rise training program. The mid-rise training program has since been integrated into the second and third year apprenticeship program. In addition to classroom theory, practical application, and guest speakers, a highlight of the program can be found at the training centre where a 33-foot high scaled down mock up of the typical engineered wood systems in a mid-rise structure has been built, complete with connectors, stairs and even a wood framed elevator shaft.
Not content to simply update existing practitioners, the Carpenters’ Union helps educate future practitioners about wood design and construction. A crew of journeypersons and apprentices serve as coaches at the annual TimberFever competition that challenges teams of architectural science and civil engineering students to design and construct a wood structure in a 36 hour design-build contest. The carpenters show the students how to safely use power tools, teach them various wood cuts and fastening methods as well as efficient assembly methods. The carpenters are a great help because many of the students have no carpentry experience. The challenge helps build bridges between the professions, teaching all participants how to effectively communicate across disciplines and work together. The exercise builds lasting working relationships between the next generation of designers and carpenters, relationships that will benefit the industry for years to come.
His work with both future and existing practitioners is helping build the skilled workforce Ontario needs to realize the full potential of the wood-frame mid-rise opportunity.