Using wood for mid-rise residential buildings is a great way to increase density and gain environmental and economic advantages at the same time. That’s why the B.C. government amended the provincial building code in 2009 to increase the permissible height for light-frame wood residential construction to six storeys from four. Before amending the code, the British Columbia government brought together safety experts so it could be confident that mid-rise wood from residential buildings could be designed and constructed with adequite levels of safety. The work included a simulated earthquake test involving a six-storey building on the world’s largest shake table in Miki City, Japan. The building performed extremely well, with no structural damage observed. The Remy project in Richmond, with mid- and low-rise residential structures and a community centre/daycare, became the first six storey wood-frame development to receive a building permit under the revised BC Building Code. It embraced innovations – such as new wood materials and engineering solutions – to increase the quality and sophistication of wood construction. The increasing use of wood in mid-rise construction such as Remy has prompted the design, testing and analysis of a number of fire-resistance-rated wood floor and wall assemblies. There has been a significant increase in mid-rise projects are now being planned or built in British Columbia, reflecting increasing confidence and acceptance of wood use for five and six storey construction.
Wood was the material of choice for the structure and finishes in the facility. Using glulam columns and purlins, and a heavy timber roof deck in key public areas of the lobby and foyer spaces, imparts a warm and friendly atmosphere while conveying a sense of grandeur. Equally, the use of wood in the interior canopy ceiling and wall panels in the areas where the RCMP and civilian staff interact with the public, creates a calm and supportive atmosphere. Perpendicular to the foyer is an atrium corridor within the primary secure area, which is framed with wooden columns that resemble a line of trees along a curved forest path. Light is filtered from the clerestory windows past the wood columns and wood ceiling, enhancing this illusion. Certified wood and wood products were chosen for their sustainable attributes and durability. The majority of the dimensional wood and glulam components were locally sourced. The design also incorporates salvaged glulam material from the demolished building that originally occupied the site. This salvaged material was used to create decorative wood panels in the entrance foyer. The facility is one of the first to utilize the City’s carbonneutral wood fibre-based district energy system, where the heat is generated from the kiln drying process at a local lumber mill.