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University of Toronto plans tall wood building

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Image: MJMA and Patkau Architects


The University of Toronto says on its website that it is “set to build a 14-storey academic tower made of timber on its downtown Toronto campus - expected to be the tallest mass timber and concrete hybrid building in North America.”
Of course laminated wood construction is nothing new. Nail laminated timber has been used for hundreds of years, but recently, and especially in North America, CLT, DLT and glulam have become very popular and combining these products has allowed the timber industry to compete with the precast concrete world and transformed what can be done in wood.
Another advantage is he speed with which a timber building can be installed.
Speed of construction and light weight – we are talking about materials weighing about one fifth of concrete, so foundations are much less expensive - allow a wood building to be constructed quickly and on a site that has very poor soil conditions that would otherwise require extra foundation work.
According to U of T:
“There are a lot of compelling arguments for the use of wood,” says Gilbert Delgado, U of T’s chief of university planning, design and construction.
“Recognizing the benefits of building with timber, the Ontario and federal governments are providing funding for buildings that use the material. U of T’s wood tower will be financed in part by those government subsidies, and through university funds and philanthropy, says Delgado.
The tower will be built above the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport and will house a number of academic units, including Rotman Executive Programs, the Munk School of Global Affairs, the Faculty of Arts & Science's Master in Mathematical Finance program and the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.
U of T is working on the project with Patkau Architects of Vancouver in partnership with MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects (MJMA) of Toronto and Blackwell Structural Engineers – all of whom worked together on the Goldring Centre, which opened in 2014.
The Goldring Centre was designed and built with the structural integrity to be the base for the tower so there will be no need to dig deeper in order to build the taller structure, says Ted Watson, a partner at MJMA.
“As part of that project we developed a structural base, a foundation, to put the future tower on top of,” he says. “We don't have to go down into the ground and all of the mess and construction disruption that goes along with that – that work has been done.”
U of T’s academic wood tower is still in the design phase of development, awaiting zoning changes to increase the height allowance for tall wood buildings. Construction could begin at the end of 2019.”

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