Special to the GTA Construction Report
The Ontario Wood WORKS Program’s wood design awards celebrated its 14th annual awards night Nov. 12 in Vaughan, honoring both large and small projects employing wood in innovative ways.
“The role of wood in commercial and institutional construction is growing,” says Marianne Berube, executive director of the Ontario Wood WORKS! program.
Among this year’s winners were three schools, a recreation complex, single and multi-family residences and the wood veil at Lansdowne Park’s CFL stadium in Ottawa.
The award for Engineer Wood Advocate in wood frame went to Blackwell and ZAS Architects won the Architect Wood Advocate Award.
Berube says this year is “particularly special” because the Ontario Building Code changes will allow for six-storey wood frame construction. Until now, only B.C. had permitted builders to build higher than four storeys.
Mike Yorke, president of Carpenters Local 27 – the Awards Night’s reception sponsor – says: “The potential now for wood in midrise construction opens up new and diverse market areas and means growth for this industry , and in fact, for Ontario’s natural resources sector and northern communities – which is more good news.”
He says the move to include taller wood frame structures in the building code could see “an expansion of the industry. We have heard really positive results in B.C.”
There are plenty of reasons why wood midrises make sense. Less build time and lower costs compared to concrete midrises top the list, he says.
Six-storey wood buildings can be erected without heavy cranes – required for most concrete towers, he adds. Laydown space is less of an issue – a big advantage on the many tight sites in Toronto.
Yorke says that wood framing is a big component in union training centres across the province, so the labor required is there and prepared for the new work. “As regulatory changes are made in Ontario, we’re able to quickly adapt or add to our training skillsets to make sure we meet the regulatory standards.”
He doesn’t see the coming wood-frame highrise market as a threat to the concrete forming industry. “It is simply a new market area that will be developed.”
Engineering a wood frame six-storey structure, however, is not the same as engineering a three- or four-storey wood building. “The loads are quite different. We have to understand about stresses and loads — the pressures of wind load, for example.”
Yorke says one of the distinctions with highrise wood, as it is done in B.C., is that anchor bolts are required at each top plate from the foundation all the way to the top plate in the building to ensure it is held tight to the foundation. Those anchor bolts have to be self-tightening to allow for wood shrinkage.
“There will be some challenges with new technologies but we’re adept at developing training for those challenges.”
Yorke says, the Carpenters union is “extremely proud” of the role its members have played on a number of these winning projects.
He cites contractors which employ a lot of union carpenters such as Bondfield Construction Company Limited. Bondfield was on the team that won the Green Building award – the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata.
A number of other winners included engineers and architects from Toronto which have forged solid long-term partnerships with union contractors. One of the “up and coming” engineering firms in the industry – Blackwell – took home the Engineer Wood Advocate Award. The firm is a four-time Engineer Award recipient and 2010 Wood Champion award winner.
“They are a younger group that takes on exciting and challenging projects,” says Yorke. “And from what I hear from our contractors these guys are a pleasure to work with.”