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Ontario’s Wood WORKS! Awards announce 2017 winners


November 8, 2017
by Canadian Architect

This month, architects, engineers, developers and other construction industry professionals at the forefront of wood design in Ontario celebrated excellence in wood design at the 17th annual Wood WORKS! Awards in Toronto. The awards program honours people and organizations that, through design excellence, advocacy, and innovation, are advancing the use of wood in all types of construction.

“It is our privilege to celebrate Ontario’s wood design leaders through the Wood Design Award program,” said Marianne Berube, executive director of the Ontario Wood WORKS! program. “Wood is an extraordinary building material, as you can see from the projects that received awards tonight. It is also a sustainable building solution. Design professionals who understand the need for sustainable development are specifying wood products for innovative, environmentally responsible construction. Some of those leaders were recognized tonight.”

Ontario Wood WORKS! presented 12 awards at the event. Ten awards went to specific wood projects and two were given to professionals for contributions to the building industry that advance the case for wood design and construction.

“Today’s wood products and systems are technologically advanced,” concluded Berube. “Project teams are using these high-performance building materials in exciting ways, actively and imaginatively exploring wood’s expanding potential. The awards program gives us an opportunity to showcase what is happening in wood design and construction.”

Wood WORKS! is a national, industry-led initiative of the Canadian Wood Council that promotes and supports the use of wood in all types of construction. Working with the design community, Wood WORKS! connects practitioners with resources related to the use of wood in commercial, industrial, institutional and multi-unit residential construction, assists in product sourcing, and delivers educational seminars and training opportunities to existing and future practitioners.

Ontario Wood Award — Project: Story Pod, Newmarket, ON. Architect: Atelier Kastelic Buffey Inc.

The ‘Story Pod’ is a community-supported, 64 square foot lending library situated in downtown Newmarket. Placed on the edge of a prominent, recently completed civic square, the wooden pod follows the municipality’s plan to use contemporary eco-friendly design as a means of creating a lively, innovative public hub for community exchange. Proponents in this successful public-private partnership were the Town of Newmarket, HollisWealth, Scholastic, the Newmarket Public Library and AKB Architects.Wood Works!

During the day, two entirely wood clad walls pivot open, encouraging people to come inside or to gather around the front. In this transformative process, the dark wood exterior gives way to a carefully detailed interior clad in warm, marine grade veneer plywood, containing a full wall of books and various levels of built-in seating. With both walls fully open the pod extends itself outward beyond its compact footprint, engaging individual visitors to take or leave a book, while it also supports larger gatherings and collective reading sessions with groups of students and teachers.

At night, with the doors closed, recessed, energy efficient LED lights, powered by concealed rooftop solar panels, glow through the exterior wooden battens, providing ambience for night markets and community events. During the winter months, the pod is stored off-site; steel channels recessed into the base accommodate a standard forklift for efficient transportation.

Environmental Building Award — Project: Active House, Toronto, ON Developer: Great Gulf.  Architect: superkül. Structural Engineer: Quaile Engineering.

Active House – Centennial Park employs an innovative structural wood roof and wall system with integrated air barrier that streamlines the weatherization process and transforms the assembly of exterior walls into a simpler installation process. The system is an integrated 3-ply exterior sheathing material, which is a combined, Rigid Insulation, OSB Sheathing and House Wrap all in one, saving on triple handling of material and installation time. Fabrication in a factory setting, utilizing computer generated cuts, optimized sheathing for minimal waste of all materials.Wood Works!

In addition to wood’s unlimited design potential, its ability to capture carbon is unlike any other building product – making it much more environmentally friendly. Its superior thermal comfort over other materials made it the obvious choice on this project.

Essential to the success of Centennial Park is Great Gulf’s H+ME Technology system, an advanced indoor automated manufacturing plant that allows roof, wall and floor assemblies to be built as integrated panels in a controlled environment—even providing the opportunity to build full-scale mock-ups to verify the project’s energy efficiency. The H+ME Technology facility is supported by myriad construction visualization, prototyping and fabricating technologies that reduce environmental waste and increase energy performance through the manufacture of tight-fitting building components.

It has been calculated that a staggering 89.5% of the materials used Centennial Park will have a recycling potential. Based on documentation from Great Gulf regarding sustainable wooden products, it has been identified, that approximately 80% of the wooden products (by weight) used are SFI certified.

Interior Wood Design Award —  Lazaridis Hall, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON. Architect: Diamond Schmitt Architects. Associate Architect: David Thompson Architect Ltd. Structural Engineer:  VanBoxmeer & Stranges Engineering Ltd.

Lazaridis Hall is the new home of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. The building is also home to Laurier’s Department of Mathematics and associated programs, including the Lazaridis Institute and the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation.Wood Works!

The school’s mandate is to develop leaders with skills in management and economics for a rapidly changing, complex global environment. The design imperative was to craft a building that supports these ambitions and is flexible in its ability to serve a variety of functions, including academic program delivery, faculty and administration offices, gathering and peer learning areas to serve the entire campus.Wood Works!

The attractive, extensively daylit atrium building provides much needed structured and unstructured student space for the campus community. The large wood-lined central gathering space presents a warm, inviting and acoustically attenuated environment where the wood slatted walls are multi-functional. They conceal extensive acoustic treatment, which allows for both group and individual study. Wood slats also provide degrees of privacy to office windows surrounding the atrium. This bright, interconnected space contributes daylight and view within a large floor plate so that virtually all occupied spaces – including the 240 faculty offices – have windows to the exterior, atrium or courtyard.Wood Works!

Designed from the inside out, the building form and wood materiality celebrate significant program components such as the curvilinear auditorium and hovering 300-seat lecture hall, which articulate a seamless expression both on the interior and exterior. Wood veneer faced resin phenolic panels clad the exterior curved walls and closely matched wood veneer panels provide continuity on the interior curved walls. These simple strong forms contribute to the building’s expression and presence along University Avenue.

Residential Wood Design Award — Project: House on Ancaster Creek, Ancaster, ON. Architect:  Williamson Williamson Inc. Structural Engineer: Blackwell, Faet Lab. 

A wide lot backing onto Ancaster Creek is the site for a multi-generational home for a young family and their elderly parents. The house was conceived as two distinct homes, both linear bars, that cross perpendicular to each other and stack at the corner. The parents’ suite occupies the ground floor with the living and dining space anchoring the view-end of the bar. The suite is laid out as an accessible apartment with a bathroom, kitchen, living/dining and bedroom.Wood Works!

Running parallel to the creek, the main kitchen, dining and living spaces hold primary views of the conservation land to the west. The kitchen anchors the south end of the house. Set in a double height volume, the 20 foot tall pyramidal ceiling creates an expansive space that opens to the sky. The dining room is adjacent in a glazed link pinched between the landscape that flows from the creek, through the courtyard, and to the front of the house. A wood-clad spiral staircase connects the living room to the second floor master suite.Wood Works!

Pairing western red cedar cladding and local limestone on the exterior with white oak floors, cabinetry and figural stair on the interior, connects this modern house to an ancient Southern Ontario landscape. Wood’s inherent warmth, strength, lightness, and malleability combine to create everything from the structural framework for the house to a variety of finish conditions.

Mid-Rise Wood Design Award — Project: Lake House Condominiums, Grimsby, ON. Developer: Branthaven Homes. Architect:  Kirkor Architects + Planners. Engineer: Tacoma Engineers Inc.   

According to Branthaven Homes, using wood as the primary structural component for Lake House and other mid-rise buildings provides an opportunity for the developer to support local skilled trades, wood panel manufacturers and lumber suppliers. For this project, wood construction also created opportunities to accelerate the construction schedule by building sub-components such as roof assemblies at ground level and lifting them into place, a method of construction that also reduced safety risks throughout the project. By building with wood, overall construction costs were reduced compared with cast-in-place concrete and the carbon footprint of construction is significantly reduced versus cast-in-place construction, and the primary structural component is 100% renewable.Wood Works!

From a design standpoint, wood is a timeless interior and exterior finish – the design team integrated design features into Lake House Condominiums to showcase the natural beauty of wood. Examples of this include wood soffit, wood pergolas on the upper floor, wood panel ceilings and wood accents throughout the interior of the buildings. In addition, mechanical components such as sanitary and roof drains were located to within the floor assembly where feasible to maximize headroom and avoid unsightly bulkheads.

Institutional Wood Design Award < $10 M — Project: St. David Catholic Elementary School, Sudbury, ON. Architect:  Yallowega Bélanger Salach Architecture. Engineer:  A2S Associates Limited.

St. David Catholic Elementary School takes advantage of its serene backdrop within the great Canadian & Boreal Shield, drawing inspiration from its natural landscape, filled with hills, creeks, rocks, and large dense forest regions. The school itself is a spirited one storey, wood-frame structure, constructed mainly from large glue laminated timber and standard lumber framing.Wood Works!

The presence of exposed wood enhances the informal learning space by providing an inviting and enriching environment, while allowing for the softening of the interior space. Unlike concrete or steel, it is undeniable that wood and its distinct grain has a capacity to put people at ease—an ease that could be carried into the classrooms, the children and staff are met with expansive and dynamic views to the forest canopy outside.

With the volatility of the energy market in Ontario, the economic values inherent in the energy efficient properties of wood, kept pace with the design team’s consideration of its positive physiological and psychological benefits. The material lent itself incredibly to foreseeable operation cost savings based on its thermal performance, reinforcing its role as an important ingredient in energy conservation. Inviting and warm interiors, sustained lush and green exteriors, environmentally-friendly material, long-term energy savings—wood provided many resounding advantages that have become characteristic of the learning environment at St. David Catholic Elementary School.Wood Works!

“These kids deserve a brand-new beautiful building, there’s no question in my mind. They have spirit and spunk and they have the passion to be able to change the world. This building is finally meeting who we are as a school” – Dawn Wemigwans, Principal of St. David Catholic Elementary School.

Institutional Wood Design Award >$10 M — Project: McEwen School of Architecture/École d’architecture McEwen, Sudbury, ON. Architect: LGA Architectural Partners. Engineer: AECOM. 

Located in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada’s first new architecture school in 40 years draws inspiration from the architectural traditions of northern Ontario’s Anglophone, Francophone and Indigenous communities, and serves as a teaching laboratory for the advancement of sustainable, community-driven design in northern climates. Combining two century-old heritage buildings totaling 19,700 sf with 52,150 sf of new construction, Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture demonstrates the properties of wood, steel and masonry construction, illustrating to students the structural potential and aesthetic qualities of each.Wood Works!

From a construction innovation perspective, however, McEwen’s new Library Wing is particularly notable for its extensive use of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). The Library Wing is clad in BIM-modelled, prefab CLT panels and unitized glazing panels, and is entirely a mass timber construction. One of wood’s great advantages is that it is the only structural building material that, in a cold climate, can move seamlessly between the warm interior and the cold exterior without thermal bridging.

The CLT was pre-engineered by the consultants using an integrated BIM modelling process. This BIM model was shared with the fabricator to commence manufacturing the components. These were designed and fabricated to fit together like a kit of parts. The prefabricated CLT panels that we used on this project also mitigated the northern Ontario construction challenges of a short building season, a small labor pool of skilled local trades, and high transportation costs. Delivered to the site numbered and ready to install, the panels required no additional onsite work. Structure and enclosure were completed in only two weeks.

Commercial Wood Design Award — Project:  Ontario Wood Pavilion – IDS 2017, Toronto, ON. Architect: blackLAB architects inc. Engineer: Moses Structural Engineers. 

The 1700 square foot Ontario Wood Pavilion was a feature exhibit at the IDS17 show in Toronto. The pavilion showcased and promoted makers and manufacturers who work with locally-sourced wood. Framing lumber from EACOM’s Nairn Centre sawmill and sustainable aspen plywood by Rockshield EWP were used to create a sculptural backdrop for furniture and lighting created by Ontario craftspeople. These two main materials were used prominently in the space and were left unfinished in order to feature the natural beauty of Ontario wood products. The use of wood meant that the project stayed on budget and was easy to construct.Wood Works!

Through careful engineering, connections were designed for quick assembly. The sculptural walls were quickly erected without compromising the future life of the material. The wood used in the space was dismantled ready for re-use by Habitat for Humanity after the show. The exhibit space was constructed of 4 repeated shell walls created with stacked 2×6 lumber. Each shell uses one lift (189 pieces) of 2x6x8’ SPF – the majority of which remained uncut and was re-used after the show.

Northern Ontario Excellence Award — Project:  Carpenters’ Union Local 1669 Training Centre, Thunder Bay, ON. Architect/Engineer:  FORM Architecture Engineering. 

Wood was the material of choice for the Carpenters Union Local 1669 Training Centre because of its natural appeal, connection to the community of Thunder Bay, and importance to the carpentry industry. The wood throughout the building gives it an inviting quality and an industrial ambiance, while incorporating contemporary elements to support leading-edge carpentry training and apprenticeship programs.Wood Works!

The Carpenters Union Local 1669 mandated the material and labour hours for Union members in the construction of the facility. This opportunity allowed FORM to incorporate all areas of Union practices into the building, including traditional platform framing, fabricated wood trusses, glued laminated timber in the training area, heavy timber structure in the entrance and corridors, engineered wood products such as TJI’s plywood, traditional wood siding and soffits, plywood casework and wood panelling.

The building design used various materials and methods to showcase the uses of wood in traditional construction. One very unique use of wood is in the interior entryway, where solid wood and birch veneer wood screens were designed to symbolize stick frame construction, a fundamental part of the carpentry trade. The exterior Canadian western red cedar siding creates warmth and contrast while incorporating sustainable and long-lasting materials.

Jury’s Choice Award — Project: The National Arts Centre Rejuvenation, Ottawa, ON. Architect: Diamond Schmitt Architects. Engineer: Fast + Epp.

Ottawa’s National Arts Centre occupies a prominent position on Confederation Square National Historic Site. Since opening in 1969, this unprecedented complex of four stages has been the premier showcase for the very best performing arts in the country. But the Centre was virtually impenetrable, a concrete bunker in the Brutalist style where patrons had difficulty finding the main entrance. A rejuvenation to showcase the activity within that creates a warm and welcoming invitation to the city relies on the use of wood as an essential part of its transformation.

Three new wings and a marquee tower now wrap around the west, north and east sides of the complex in the rigorous hexagonal language of the existing building. But the materiality invites engagement and connection, a welcome addition to the original design. The new wings are constructed of an exposed wood structure comprised of triangular coffers made of western Canada Douglas fir and a glass curtain wall system. On view are the fine details crafted in wood that define the NAC’s new accessibility and attitude.Wood Works!

Pre-fabricating the wood structure proved to be an invaluable strategy for the project. In order to meet a demanding construction schedule (the project had to be complete by the hard deadline of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebration on July 1, 2017), the design and construction management team had to think strategically about construction methods and materials. A prefabrication system was the only way to go.

The laminated triangular wood coffers that dominate the structure also serve as the finished decorative ceiling, therefore reducing the amount of finishing work once the building was enclosed. Their fabrication in nearby Chesterville began concurrently with demolition activities on site. The majority of the mechanical, electrical, theatrical and audio/visual infrastructure was installed into the coffer panels in the prefabrication process. The coffers were ganged in linear pieces using thin steel plates and then delivered to the site and lifted into place. The entire roof structure was installed in three weeks. Inside each coffer is a micro-perforated wood panel, lined with acoustic insulation, to attenuate sound in the busy lobby spaces.

Designer / Builder Award — Designer / Builder: Pratt Homes, Barrie, ON.

Pratt Homes has become a household name in the Barrie region. For over 100 years, successive generations of the family have grown the firm into one of the area’s largest builders of detached homes, condos, and townhomes. They were a founder of the successful Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) approved Rent-to-Own program, as well as other various owner assistance and low-deposit structure programs. Pratt Homes has made the dream of home ownership a reality for generations of area residents. Pratt Homes is currently completing two projects in Barrie, containing six 6-storey light wood frame condos, with more to follow. They joined Wood WORKS! and the Ontario Home Builders Association on educational mid-rise building tours to Vancouver in 2015 and Sweden in 2017 and are demonstrated leaders in mid-rise development.

Wood Champion Award — Wood Champion Award: Tad Putyra, President and COO, Great Gulf Low-Rise; President, H+ME Technology, Toronto, ON.

This year’s wood champion is a respected and recognized member of the homebuilding industry. Among other things, he is the president and COO of Great Gulf Homes Low-Rise division and the president of H+ME Technology. Tad Putyra has been a leader in wood innovation and panelization for over a decade. His commitment to excellence can be seen in his knowledge and passion for the industry. He understands where home construction is heading and has worked tirelessly to bring positive changes to the industry.

Building Information Modeling, factory-built construction, and extensively trained and educated staff were all part of his vision which has been realized by the H+ME Technology process. Because of his vision and influence, the market benefits from reliable, durable, precision-built homes that are constructed quickly and efficiently.



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  1. […] You can find the rest of the story at Canadian Architect, linked here. […]

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  3. […] Branthhaven is proud to announce that its Lake House Condominium project in Grimsby, Ontario, was recently awarded Mid-Rise Wood Design Award at the annual Ontario Wood WORKS! Awards presented by the Canadian Wood Council. For more details, please click here. […]

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