Tucked away on the Vancouver campus of the University of British Columbia sits a marvel of innovation in wood construction. It’s called Brock Commons, a student residence tower housing some 400 students.
Completed in 2017, it looks like any other residential tower save for the distinctive look of blond wood gleaming as the sun hits it. The unassuming building certainly doesn’t give away the fact that it’s a world first — the first 18-storey building constructed almost entirely out of wood.
“We’re quite proud of the results of the project and the lessons that we’ve learned from the project,” said John Metras, UBC ‘s associate vice president of facilities.
The building was made possible by innovations over the last decade that allow several pieces of wood to essentially be glued together under pressure to make one super strong piece of wood that can hold more weight than ever before. This new wood product is called mass timber, which is assembled and built in a factory and then brought to the construction site to be assembled like Lego.