New UBC student residence the world’s tallest wood building

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UBC Brock Commons Tall Wood Building
The completed Brock Commons Tallwood House student residence at UBC. Credit: University of British Columbia

If you don’t spend much time out at UBC, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that the campus is now home to world’s tallest wood building.

The 18-storey Brock Commons student residence was completed this summer, and is the world’s tallest contemporary wood building.

Brock Commons, also known as Tallwood House, houses more than 400 students in 33 four-bedroom suites and 272 studio suites.

The building was designed by Acton Ostry Architects Inc., in collaboration with structural engineers Fast + Epp, tall wood advisor Architekten Hermann Kaufmann of Austria, and Structurlam in Penticton, B.C.

The building was erected at a rate of two floors per week, a speed made possible by the use of prefabricated façade panels, glulam columns and CLT floor slabs. The entire building was completed in 18 months, compared to an average of 22 months construction time for a comparable concrete building.

The structure of the building is primarily made out of wood, but includes a concrete ground floor and core. A concrete floor topping was added to the floor slabs on each level to help with acoustics.

UBC Brock Commons Tall Wood Building
The completed Brock Commons Tallwood House student residence at UBC. Credit: University of British Columbia
UBC Brock Commons Tall Wood Building
The completed Brock Commons Tallwood House student residence at UBC. Credit: University of British Columbia
UBC Brock Commons Tall Wood Building construction
Construction of the Brock Commons Tallwood House student residence at UBC. Credit: Acton Ostry Architects Inc.
UBC Brock Commons Tall Wood Building construction progress
Construction of the Brock Commons Tallwood House student residence at UBC. Credit: Acton Ostry Architects Inc.
UBC Brock Commons Tall Wood Building
The completed Brock Commons Tallwood House student residence at UBC. Credit: University of British Columbia
UBC Brock Commons Tall Wood Building construction components
Components of Tallwood House construction at UBC. Credit: Acton Ostry Architects Inc.

Fire safety

The design of Brock Commons underwent a peer-review process, involving a panel of leading fire safety experts, scientists and firefighters.

The building is comprised of a series of repetitive, highly compartmentalized small rooms so that in the event a fire originates in one suite, it is extremely likely the fire would be contained in the compartment in which it originated.

A back-up water supply and emergency power supply ensures the sprinkler system will function even if the building loses its standard water and electrical supply.

In a fire, heavy timber chars on the outside, while retaining strength, slowing combustion and allowing time for occupants to evacuate the building.

The building was designed to meet the required one and two-hour fire ratings for this type of building, and exceeds fire and seismic standards for a concrete or steel structure.

The CLT and glulam components used in the project have been enhanced through complete encapsulation, with three to four layers of fire-rated Type X gypsum board, dependent on the component’s location.

Funding

The project cost approximately $51.5 million, with $47.07 million financed by UBC. Funding was received from Natural Resources Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the Binational Softwood Lumber Council and FPInnovations.

Rental prices range from $924 to $1,116.51/month.

Video: Brock Commons Tallwood House

Video: https://youtu.be/G22kYhaT-h4