April 13, 2010
by Canadian Architect
Crawford Bay Elementary Secondary School, designed by KMBR Architects Planners Inc., was recognized with a WoodWORKS! BC Wood Design Award. It is the third such award in four years for KMBR: in 2006, the firm was honoured with the Architect Award for the design of the Moricetown Gas Bar, and in 2008, won in the category of Western Red Cedar (Non-Residential) for the design of UBC’s Walter C. Koerner Forestry Research Lodge on Loon Lake.
The school, which has already received a SAB Canadian Green Building Award and a Fortis BC PowerSense Conservation Excellence Award, won in the category of Institutional Wood Design with a value of less than $10 million.
“We’ve always felt that Crawford Bay was a very special project,” says the project’s leader and KMBR partner Witmar Abele. “It’s very humbling to see it be acknowledged not only for its many sustainable features, but also for the overall quality of the design.”
The awards are given out annually by the Canadian Wood Council, whose Wood WORKS! initiative promotes the use of wood in non-residential construction, and recognizes those in the architecture and engineering fields who showcase the strength, beauty, and sustainability of wood in their work.
According to the Council, the Wood Design Awards “bring together people from various sectors to celebrate leadership and innovation,” and “serve as an opportunity to publicly recognize and encourage continued excellence in the building and design community and in the forest industry.”
KMBR’s latest award-winning project saw the replacement of a 200-student elementary/secondary school, originally built in the late 1940s, in the small rural town on the east shore of Kootenay Lake in southeastern British Columbia. Given the significance of the forestry industry in this small community, as well as the importance of sustainability to both KMBR and the area residents, the design of the new school relies heavily on the use of locally produced wood products, resulting in several invaluable outcomes.
The use of locally produced wood products avoided the shipping of materials from afar, and thereby reduced the new school’s environmental footprint. The use of wood was also an intentional, socially responsible move in that it created local employment – for both the lumber industry and local carpenters – thus greatly stimulating the local economy.
That such positive benefits of designing with wood are being increasingly recognized by designers and clients alike is greatly encouraging for Abele. “When used properly, wood is an incredibly versatile and sustainable material,” he says. “But just as importantly, it makes for warm, welcoming, beautiful buildings.”