Academic Wood Tower Choreography
Design and planning for the University of Toronto’s first mass timber building
Presented on August 5, 2020 at Facade Tectonics 2020 World Congress
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With an ever-growing interest in mid- and high-rise mass timber construction, this paper highlights the insights and lessons learned across global mass-timber precedents while providing a detailed examination of ongoing work with the University of Toronto’s Academic Wood Tower (AWT). Located on the University’s St. George Campus, the AWT is currently undertaking a delegated design process (Design Assist) in conjunction with a lengthy approvals period. This paper will highlight the common issues encountered with high- rise mass timber development, with a specific focus on the delegated design process. Careful design and coordination of enclosures remain critical to the successful realization of any building, however, tall timber structures pose an array of interesting design opportunities and challenges. One challenge/opportunity of mass timber lies in its inherent speed of construction, exposing unique aspects of risk, including: weather exposure, and the need to design and plan a highly choreographed construction process; increased building performance relative to new local energy codes; and, the exploration of prefabricated facade aspects, from traditional curtain wall and opaque panel assemblies to new hybrid systems capable of meeting increasingly restrictive building codes.
The building community is responding to the climate crisis by designing and constructing buildings with reduced carbon emissions. In combination with efficient building systems and a high-performance envelope, mass timber
Constructing high-performance tall buildings out of mass timber is a challenge that is not insurmountable, yet for projects with restricted budgets and fast-tracked timelines, solutions become inherently more intermingled, necessitating
Tall Timber Construction
The use of timber structures in building has long been limited by various building codes, however, recent changes to these codes and a growing number of allowances for alternative built
Mass timber results in inherently large-scale elements, particularly so with structural components on tall building projects, the opportunity of prefabricating these components provides the only viable method of construction. Beyond
The vast majority of modern commercial tower facades are constructed with unitized aluminum curtain wall assemblies, comprised of a mix of vision panels and opaque spandrels. A robust and innovative
The mass timber industry’s revival and continued evolution have generated a series of design challenges, including limits on material and labor supply, as well as the non-standardized system approaches. Many
Precedent Example – 25 King
Located in Brisbane, Australia, the 25 King Office building was completed in
Precedent Example – Brock Commons
Located at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, Brock Commons Tallwood
Precedent Example – MJØSTÅRNET
Located at the Brumunddal, Norway, Mjøstårnet is an 18-story mixed-use tower standing 10,500m²
AWT - Project Background
The Academic Wood Tower was originally conceived as a steel tower and
AWT – Structural Approach
Significant project constraints drive the structural configuration of the AWT. First, a clear span is required at the base
AWT – Project Solutions
The project has now reached completion of the design development phase, during which the University stipulated that the AWT must achieve 40% energy savings above the stipulated requirements of ASHRAE
In the case of the University of Toronto’s Academic Wood Tower project, the design team has encountered challenges in creating a high- performance mass timber tower on a highly constrained
Upon review, this paper has revealed a number of future actions necessary to facilitate the growth and adoption of high-performance tall timber buildings, however, innovation needs to occur at all
We would like to acknowledge MJMA and Patkau Architects for supporting the production of this paper; Jennifer Galda of MJMA for her extensive and thorough review; Greg Boothroyd of Patkau Architects for his kind edits; David English, former UBC properties project manager on Brock Commons, for providing further insight on that significant project; and Alex Lukachko of RDH Building Science for his high-level insights.
AWT PROJECT CREDITS
• Architects in Association: Patkau Architects & MJM Architects
• Structural Engineers: Blackwell Structural Engineers
• Envelope & Building Science: RDH Building Science
• Mechanical and Electrical: Smith + Andersen.
• Sustainability: Footprint SA.
• Microclimate and Acoustics: RWDI
• Building Code & Life Safety: David Hine Engineering Inc.
• Fire Protection: CHM Fire Consultants Ltd.
Rights and Permissions
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Robbins, Jim. “As Mass Timber Takes Off, How Green Is This New Building Material?”. https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-mass-timber-takes-off-how-green-is-this-new-building-material(Accessed August 10, 2019).
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Walsh, Niall Patrick. "The Tallest Timber Tower in Australia Opens in Brisbane." https://www.archdaily.com/906495/the-tallest-timber-tower-in-australia-opens-in-brisbane?ad_source=search&ad_medium=search_result_all(accessed Aug 10, 2019).