Timber on the rise: Mass timber buildings coming to BC

It’s no surprise that mass timber construction is gaining momentum throughout Canada and around the world. Wood is beautiful, quicker to build with, an excellent insulator – 15x better than concrete and 4000x better than steel – and more environmentally friendly as carbon remains stored in the wood for the life of the structure.

As we’ve seen over the last few years, the provincial government is continuing to prioritize mass timber construction and has supported a wide variety of projects across the province, from multi-family residential buildings to public institutional structures. Not only are these projects sustainable and good for the environment, but they also create a number of jobs in rural and urban areas – whether in research, design, engineering, or construction – supporting families, communities and BC’s economy. With BC being a world leader in sustainable forest management and construction innovation, we can expect to see the number of wood buildings continue to rise in the future.

Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent up-and-coming mass timber projects proposed for BC.

Commercial – 2150 Keith Drive in Vancouver

Set for completion in 2024, this 10-storey tall wood office building (future headquarters of Nature’s Path) will be located in Vancouver’s emerging False Creek Flats neighbourhood next to the VCC Skytrain Station. The building features a honeycomb-shaped exterior and includes nine levels of mass timber construction built above a concrete base.

Rendering: DIALOG

Residential – Bellevue and 22nd in West Vancouver

Also with a 2024 completion date is this beautiful 8-storey, 7-unit, mass timber residential building located in West Vancouver’s Ambleside neighbourhood. Developers of this building are targeting a carbon-neutral and net-zero design, which means the building will be so energy efficient that it will only use renewable energy solely generated by the building.  

Rendering: Perkins and Will

First Nations Health Authority – Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver

Located on the Tsleil-Waututh Nation land in North Vancouver, this building will soon be home to the BC First Nations Health Authority. This mass timber office design will weave in elements of traditional Indigenous architecture and feature an open office configuration with social spaces for meetings, gatherings, and cultural activities. The building is expected to be complete in 2023.

Rendering: DIALOG

Residential – Tresah – Mayfair District in Victoria

This two-phase, 245-unit mass timber condominium project broke ground in November 2020 will be complete in the spring of 2023. Unlike anything else in Victoria, this development includes two buildings – a 12-storey tall wood building and a 6-storey light-frame wood structure – and it will offer studios, lofts and one- and two-bedroom units. Developers of this building are using prefabricated wood, which is much quicker to build with and more environmentally friendly as everything is pre-cut to exact dimensions, reducing waste.

Rendering: Mike Geric Construction

Ramada Hotel – Kelowna

The City of Kelowna was one of the first cities to adopt BC’s new regulations which allow mass timber construction of up to 12 storeys. This new 82-suite, 12-storey Ramada Hotel, owned by RPB Hotels and Resorts, will be the tallest mass timber tower in Kelowna.  Construction is expected to start this year.

Rendering: HDR Inc.

KF Aerospace Centre for Excellence – Kelowna, BC

Shaped as an aircraft, this new KF Aerospace Centre for Excellence broke ground in March 2021 at Kelowna’s International Airport. Using local BC wood products, the project goals are to “make it feel like a plane” and use wood whenever possible”. The building will pay tribute to the Okanagan’s 50-year history in aviation; it features an airfield viewing gallery, and visitors will be able to attend public tours and educational programs.

Rendering: StructureCraft

Wood Innovation and Design Centre  – Prince George

And last but not least, we wanted to feature the Wood Innovation and Design Centre (WIDC), an 8-storey mass timber building completed in 2014 and located in downtown Prince George. This was one of the first wood buildings to showcase the innovative uses of wood in construction. Today, it is home to UNBC’s Master of Engineering in Integrated Wood Design program, where students pursue research on BC forest products and study ways to integrate wood into structural design.