On November 12, the Ontario Wood WORKS program’s wood design award program celebrated both large and small projects employing forest products in innovative ways.
Among this year’s winners were three schools, a recreation complex, single and multi-family residences, and the wood veil at Lansdowne Park’s Canadian Football League (CFL) stadium in Ottawa. The award for Engineer Wood Advocate in wood frame went to Blackwell, and ZAS Architects won the Architect Wood Advocate Award.
“The role of wood in commercial and institutional construction is growing,” said Marianne Berube, executive director of Ontario Wood WORKS.
She says this year is “particularly special” because the Ontario Building Code (OBC) changes allow for six-storey wood frame construction. Until now, only British Columbia had permitted builders to go higher than four storeys.
Mike Yorke, president of Carpenters Local 27—the Awards Night’s reception sponsor—said the move to include taller wood-framed structures could result in an expansion of the industry.
“The potential now for wood in mid-rise construction opens up new and diverse market areas and means growth for this industry, and in fact, for Ontario’s natural resources sector and northern communities.”
Yorke cited less build time and lower costs compared to concrete mid-rises. He also pointed out six-storey wood buildings can be erected without heavy cranes, which are required for most concrete towers. Laydown space is less of an issue, he said, which is an advantage on the many tight sites in Toronto.
Yorke says wood framing is a big component in union training centres across the province, so the labour required is already in place and prepared for the new work.
“As regulatory changes are made in Ontario, we’re able to quickly adapt or add to our training skillsets to make sure we meet the regulatory standards,” he said.
However, engineering a wood-framed six-storey structure is not the same as planning for a three- or four-storey wood building—the team will need to understand about stresses and loads, such as the pressures of wind.
Yorke says one of the distinctions with high-rise wood, as it is done in British Columbia, is anchor bolts are required at each top plate from the foundation all the way to the top plate ensure it is held tight. Those anchor bolts have to be self-tightening to allow for wood shrinkage.
“There will be some challenges with new technologies, but we’re adept at developing training for those challenges.”
For the Wood WORKS awards in particular, Yorke also cited the role of union carpenters on many of the winning projects. For example, Bondfield Construction Company Limited was on the team that won the Green Building award for the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata.
A number of other winners included engineers and architects from Toronto that have forged solid long-term partnerships with union contractors, such as Blackwell, winner of the 2014 Engineer Wood Advocate Award, as well as a four-time Engineer Award recipient and 2010 Wood Champion award-winner.