Sustainable Skylines: Vancouver’s Leading Mass Timber Projects

Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects/Westbank

British Columbia is setting new standards in sustainable construction with mass timber projects. Vancouver is leading the way, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with this eco-friendly material. Several notable mass timber buildings are under construction, each showcasing innovative design and a commitment to sustainability.

M5, Main Alley Tech Campus

One of the most ambitious projects is M5 at Main Alley, featuring a 25-storey rental housing tower. This building, which is set to be one of the tallest mass timber structures in the world, integrates a hybrid design with a concrete foundation and core, emphasizing both strength and sustainability. Approved in early 2024, this project is a landmark in Vancouver’s efforts to embrace sustainable building materials and reduce carbon emissions from construction.

Rendering: ZGF Architects/New Commons Development

981 Davie Street

Another significant project is located at 981 Davie Street, where a 17-storey social housing building is taking shape. This development aims to provide affordable housing for families, seniors and individuals, including people living with HIV/AIDS. The building includes community spaces designed specifically for LGBTQ+ residents. The LGBTQ+ centre will be the new replacement and expanded home of QMUNITY, a non-profit organization that works to improve queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives.

Rendering: Proscenium Architecture & Interiors/PC Urban Properties/Hines

T3 Mount Pleasant

Western Canada’s largest and tallest mass timber office building, T3 Mount Pleasant, features an 11-storey, 190,000 square-foot office building. Using an innovative mass timber office design known as T3 (Timber, Transit, and Technology), this project stands out as one of Vancouver’s most environmentally friendly, sustainable, and wellness-focused developments.

Rendering: Wesgroup Properties

River District

In the River District, an 18-storey mixed-use development is underway, which is part of the Mass Timber Demonstration Program. The project will provide approximately 240 units of rental and strata housing featuring a high-performance, low-embodied carbon, prefabricated, panelized façade system. The buildings will feature a hybrid construction method, combining mass timber cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor panels with steel connections, a conventional point-supported system, and steel-stud framing for the infill, shear, and exterior walls. The underground parking and at-grade structure will be built using concrete.

Updated BC Codes for Mass Timber

To support the expansion of mass timber construction, the Government of BC has updated its building codes to allow for taller buildings, up to 18 storeys, and a wider variety of building types, including restaurants, shops, care facilities, and warehouses. This change opens new markets for mass timber products and enables owners and developers to utilize this sustainable material in almost any type of building​.

These updates in the BC Codes are a significant advancement for the mass timber industry. By allowing mass timber to be used in a broader range of applications and increasing the height limit for buildings, BC is paving the way for more innovative and sustainable construction practices.

For more details on the changes to BC Codes and how they expand mass timber construction, you can explore the BC Codes and Standards or read the BC Building Code 2024 amendments for mass timber.