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

Children of the Japanese Canadian internment return to Tashme, for museum expansion

A replica of a tar paper shack and education space part of Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum expansion

20-bed emergency shelter to open in Hope in October

Supportive housing also planned for two lots on Old Hope Princeton Way, adjacent to the shelter

Fraser River First Nations say they aren’t getting their share of sockeye

Shortage is a result of decisions made by DFO, not a shortage of sockeye, complaint says

PHOTOS: Japanese-Canadians who built Highway 3 forever remembered with Mile 9 sign

A lesser-known part of B.C. history is the 1,700 Japanese-Canadian men who built highways in WWII

Hope arm-wrestler turned track and field star wins five medals at 55+ Games

Seven medals total coming back to Hope from golf and track and field events

VIDEO: More cameras, police coming after Marissa Shen killed in Burnaby park

B.C. privacy watchdog worries that the cameras are a ‘slow creep’ to a surveillance state

Arborist killed by fallen tree at Maple Ridge Golf Course

Was working near the 9th tee box of the golf course.

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

Abbotsford raccoon dies from injuries suffered in a trap

Wildlife protection group offering $1,000 reward for information about incident

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Most Read