Brock Commons

B.C. wood high-rise is the talk of Asia

#BCForestFuture series: Structurlam of Penticton has builders and engineers asking questions in Japan and China

TSUKUBA, JAPAN – The completion of an 18-storey student residence tower at UBC has caught the attention of Japanese architects and engineers, raising the profile of a Penticton-based company and B.C.’s wood industry as a whole.

The wood hybrid structure called Brock Commons uses cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels built around a concrete foundation and towers that house elevators. It has redefined how Asian builders see the potential of wood, and spurred their work to test the limits of wood-frame construction.

A B.C. forest industry trade mission visited the Building Research Institute in Tsukuba, Japan and toured a pair of test buildings, a six-storey conventional frame structure and a modern-style home with overhangs and suspensions designed to stress-test CLT panels.

On the trade mission was Randy Pratt, president of B.C. housing developer Adera Capital Corp., parent company of Structurlam Products, which produced components for Brock Commons at its plants in Penticton and Okanagan Falls.

Adera Capital Corp. president Randy Pratt at Building Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan, Nov. 28, 2016. (Story continues below.)

The company started in 1962, where it pioneered the “glulam” beams that became a familiar sight in B.C. school gymnasiums and other public buildings. Japan, with its centuries-old tradition of post-and-beam wood construction, has been a key export customer from the start.

Structurlam engineered wood components are also used in striking wood structures including the Richmond Olympic Oval, UBC Okanagan’s fitness centre in Kelowna, the Mica Heli-Ski Lodge at Revelstoke, Armstrong Arena and Elkford Community Hall.

The Penticton location has been a good base for expansion.

“The real fit there is a combination of fibre, people and freight,” Pratt said. “We draw Douglas fir from the Kootenays and SPF [spruce-pine-fir] from the north, and a lot of talent in the South Okanagan for production and design, and we have the ability to truck and rail anywhere in North America.”

While “tall wood” towers are catching on around the world, the big market for B.C. wood products is in single-family and mid-rise housing, and a fast-growing market for resorts.

The western Canadian look of engineered beams and high windows is popular in the western U.S., as well as Alberta and B.C. And it is catching on in China, the biggest consumer market in the world.

China is a tough market for Structurlam, but Pratt says they’ve had some success with resort and golf course clubhouses, and large recreation centres for housing developments like the one Adera is building at its South Ridge Club townhouse complex in South Surrey.

“Those sort of high-profile trophy projects allow you to advertise and market the product and the brand,” he said. “The objective really is the larger market of simple, repeatable mid-rise commercial and residential projects. That’s the heart of the market.”

As for high-rise wood buildings, Structurlam has a proposal in the works for a 21-storey lakefront condo tower in its home town of Penticton.

“It’s early days and we’re keeping our fingers crossed, but it’s one of many tall wood projects on the boards in Canada and the U.S.,” Pratt said.

 

Just Posted

Mill undergoing four-week shutdown

Canfor closing other mills as well

Smithers man receives two-year sentence for fatal car crash

Over a year after a fatal crash, a Smithers man has been sentenced to two years plus a day in jail.

First Nations push for massive conservation area in northern B.C.

Includes ancestral areas of three Kaska Dena First Nations, just shy of the B.C.-Yukon border

Tahltan reach benefits agreement over Seabridge’s massive KSM gold mine project

$308M agreement provides additional billions for Tahltan jobs, contracts

B.C. court to mull continuing order against Coastal Gaslink pipeline opponents

Coastal GasLink was granted an interim injunction in December following arrests and protests

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Family frustrated Terrace dad with advanced cancer must wait weeks for treatment

‘We can see his health declining every day,’ daughter says

Most Read