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

Charles Hays boys are kings of the Northwest cross country zones

Prince Rupert’s team, and six individuals, qualify for provincials in Abbotsford

Prince Rupert swimmers come out champions in regional swim meet

Handful of swimmers qualify for provincials

MVP of the Week: Hockey and McArthur are like a pair of old chums

Gary McArthur founded a league for those who aren’t quite ready to hang up their skates

UPDATE: Missing Prince Rupert boy found an hour after community widely shares news story

Brayden Quick was given up by his friends after community rallies and shares story

Heart of Our City: Even kids can be a part of something big

Aisa Smithanik makes sure to include her family, and students, in her volunteer work

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mural defaced in Edmonton

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out

Most Read