The Government of Canada is investing $4.1 million to construct The Arbour at Toronto’s George Brown College — Ontario’s first mass-timber, low-carbon institutional building.
The project is the first to be funded under the Green Construction through Wood (GCWood) program, launched by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).
The program, which received $39.8 million over four years in Budget 2017, encourages the use of wood in non-traditional construction projects such as tall buildings.
It aims to position Canada as a world leader in tall wood construction and the low-carbon economy.
The funding announcement was made at a May 30 event at the college’s waterfront campus by Adam Vaughan, MP for Spadina-Fort York. He spoke on behalf of Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s minister of natural resources.
The 10-storey building will be constructed on a 0.23 hectare site at the southeast corner of Queens Quay East and Lower Sherbourne Street — an expansion of the college’s waterfront campus.
Construction is slated to get underway in 2021, with projected occupancy in 2024. The estimated construction cost is $130 million.
The project is being undertaken for the college by a team that includes Moriyama & Teshima Architects, Acton Ostry Architects and structural engineers Fast + Epp. General contractor is PCL.
“Developing a mass-timber building would have been unthinkable just seven years ago when our waterfront campus opened,” George Brown College President Anne Sado said at the event.
“This is a truly modern idea, and we’re proud to have the federal government’s support in achieving it. On behalf of everyone at George Brown College, I’d like to thank Natural Resources Canada for the funding announced today.
“By supporting advancements in wood construction, the federal government is driving innovation in the construction sector and investing in a more sustainable future for all Canadians.”
The building, which is expected to have a 16,250-square metre footprint, in part will be home to an advanced research hub focused on mass-timber construction.
The structural use of wood in tall construction has created new options for builders and architects
— Marianne Berube
Ontario Wood WORKS!
George Brown College professor Christopher Timusk will serve as the inaugural mass timber research chair.
The funding announcement was also welcomed by Marianne Berube, executive director of Ontario Wood WORKS!, a program of the Canadian Wood Council.
“This landmark achievement (The Arbour) is made possible with the support of NRCan’s GCWood program, a critical initiative that increases awareness and domestic capacity for wood in Canadian construction.”
Berube said The Arbour will be “a key example” of what can be achieved with sustainable, modern mass timber construction.
Projects such as The Arbour demonstrate wood’s ability to integrate with other building materials in innovative applications that include tall wood and hybrid construction, Berube added.
The Arbour is expected to be the first tall institutional building in Ontario to use wood as a principal structural element.
“The structural use of wood in tall construction has created new options for builders and architects who are continually faced with reducing the carbon footprint within the construction sector.”
Construction of The Arbour will use an estimated 3,000 cubic metres of wood, Natural Resources Canada said in a release.
Speaking on behalf of the consulting team, Carol Phillips, a partner in Moriyama & Teshima, thanked both Natural Resources Canada and Ontario Wood WORKS! for their ongoing support of the project.
“Suffice it to say, The Arbour raises the bar and in so doing, it raises expectations,” she said. “It will inspire change and inspire others to design and build differently.”
Phillips said the federal funding will make possible testing of the project’s structural innovations as well as enable “the rigorous proofs” required to introduce changes to building codes.
In addition to housing advanced research facilities, The Arbour will also be home to the college’s School of Computer Technology and School of Architectural Studies as well as a childcare centre.