Thanks to new technology, wood has become a viable construction material for residential multi-storey projects up to six storeys, according to one architect.
"The perception has been that wood construction wasn’t as safe as concrete and steel, and that it was a fire safety concern," says Winnipeg-based architect Ed Calnitsky of Calnitsky Associates Architects, who has been commissioned to design a new six-storey Holiday Inn Express hotel being built in Kelowna.
"There is now available affordable new technology that ensures new multi-storey wood structures will be both safe and fire-resistant."
The new 120-room hotel, being developed by Kelowna-based PR Hotels, will be unique, Calnitsky says.
The construction documents are currently being prepared with building expected to commence in the spring and completion scheduled the summer of the following year.
The difference, as far as building in wood, Calnitsky notes, is that the light wood frame approach has been enhanced by the use of heavy, more fire-resistant cross laminated timber panel assemblies which are engineered for strength.
"The fire-resistance rating is higher than what was available before," he says.
"As well, using wood is better environmentally. It requires less energy to produce, has a light carbon footprint and is a renewable resource."
He adds that wood structures give a greater sense of warmth and add a natural element to architecture in a way that concrete and steel cannot replicate.
"The ancient Greeks thought so highly of wood that they formed their stone columns to resemble trees after they had cut down most of their trees," he notes. "In Canada, we have no reason anymore not to opt for wood construction in multi-storey buildings."