B.C. is moving ahead with plans to build what is expected to be the tallest wood building in North America and possibly the world, Jobs Minister Pat Bell said recently.
The proposed 10-storey Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George will become a test case for creating a value-added forest products industry around tall woodbuilding construction methods that would differ radically from the way traditional mid-rise and even high-rise buildings are constructed.
Within 30 days, the province will seek qualified firms to design and construct the building out of engineered-wood beam products instead of traditional concrete and steel beams. The province has already received 34 expressions of interest.
The wood building would be the tallest in B.C., “… likely North America and possibly the world,” according to Bell. But not for long. A new study, produced for the Wood Enterprise Coalition by Vancouver architect Michael Green and several others, suggests engineered wood skyscrapers of up to 30 storeys can be safely built using new wood technology.
Green expects that within five years, buildings between 10 and 20 storeys will be built in B.C. using any one of a number of laminated engineered-wood products. The study says laminated wood beams and slabs – which can range up to 1.2 metres wide, 18 centimetres thick and 19.5 metres long – have similar properties to concrete and steel and can be used to replace them in many cases. The resulting building would be lighter, comparable in cost and more environmentally friendly than steel and concrete.
Though it seems counterintuitive, they would be more fire resistant than wood-frame buildings, meeting the same requirements as concrete and steel buildings.