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Laurentian’s School of Architecture construction to showcase cross-laminated timber technology

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A provincial investment of $350,000 through the province’s Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIB) will help fund incorporation of cross-laminated timber technology (CLT) in the construction of Laurentian University’s new School of Architecture.

The CRIBE grant will allow Laurentian Architecture to showcase the first significant use of cross-laminated timber in a public building in Ontario, the university said.

An engineered wood product, CLT is made by gluing and pressing together successive layers of spruce, pine or fir 2x4s or 2x6s to form large solid blocks or sheets that can be precision-trimmed to specific purposes.

CLT manufactured products can be used as walls, floors and roof panels in building construction. CLT construction is now being widely used in Europe, and is increasingly seen in taller wooden structures in the United States and in British Columbia.

“The possibilities created by CLT really are exciting from the architectural point of view,” said Laurentian Architecture’s founding director Terrance Galvin.

“This innovation in materials fits perfectly with our focus on green and sustainable building techniques, as well as our commitment to northern and Canadian design.”

The CRIBE grant will assist in the purchase of CLT materials, and will also defray the costs for the consultant team, including building code experts, to develop strategies to successfully detail and secure approvals for the two-storey section of the new architecture school, set to open in the fall of 2015.

The project is being undertaken by a team that includes Toronto’s Levitt Goodman Architects and engineering consultants AECOM.

The architecture school is being constructed in two phases. Phase 1 involves renovation of two existing buildings. Levitt Goodman partner David Warne said tenders will be issued In October to prequalified contractors. Construction is scheduled to get under way in January. The construction budget is estimated at $2.5 million.

Phase 2 calls for construction of a 65,000-square-foot library, classrooms, studios and administrative areas. Warne said tenders are expected to be called next June. The construction budget for the second phase is an estimated $26 million.

Current schematic designs show the west wing of the new structure, comprising the classroom, lecture hall and Library, built with CLT. Much of the 12,000-square-foot structure would be exposed to view, with clear curtain glazing.

The result will be “a beautiful use of wood, creating a warm and acoustically tempered environment,” according to the architects.

“We are tremendously excited to be involved with CRIBE and to have the opportunity to showcase CLT in a purpose-built school of architecture,” said lead architect Janna Levitt.

“We also hope this demonstration project will stimulate interest in developing local manufacturing of the product.”

CRIBE, a non-profit agency set up by the Ontario government to advance the commercialization of the forest products industry in the province, is the sole funder of the wood demonstration project at Laurentian Architecture.

The new school, the first to open in Canada in more than 40 years, has also received significant funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, TD Insurance Meloche Monnex and the organization representing businesses and service providers in downtown Sudbury.

“We are thrilled by CRIBE’s support for this forward-looking initiative,” said Laurentian vice-president, administration Carol Macaulay.

“We wanted Laurentian Architecture to speak to a future generation of designers and architects, and this generous investment will help us realize that vision.”

In making the announcement, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci called it a “great boost, not only for Laurentian Architecture, but for Ontario’s forest industry.”

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