Cordova Bay Elementary School


VIctoria, BC


1,533 square metres



Structural Engineer

Herold Engineering

Engineered Wood Fabricator

StructureCraft Builders

Project Materials

Cross-laminated timber (CLT)

Glue-laminated timber (Glulam)

Nail-laminated timber (NLT)


Structural Systems

Low rise

Mass timber


Post + beam


The seismic upgrade to Cordova Bay Elementary School, in Victoria, demonstrated the cost benefit and timeline efficiency of building schools with wood.

  • Mass timber and prefabricated panelized wood building systems allowed for the multi-phase demolition and reconstruction during the school year.
  • A mix of nail-laminated timber (NLT) and cross-laminated timber (CLT) reduced costs and delivered stability, structural efficiency, and crucially, seismic performance.
  • The school was the first to be built from NLT and CLT on Vancouver Island.

Instead of remodeling the one-storey school that was in need of a seismic upgrade, the School District demolished and replaced select portions of the school using a cost-effective combination of nail-laminated timber (NLT) and cross-laminated timber (CLT). The speed, versatility, adaptability and reduced noise of mass timber and prefabricated, panelized wood building systems was a boon for this multi-phase demolition and reconstruction that took place during the school year.

A code-compliant solution was found in panelized wood

The 1,533 square-metre school was made stronger with a strategic mix of CLT walls and NLT roof panels, supported by a glulam post-and-beam primary structure. The building accommodates a four-classroom wing, library and computer lab, seminar rooms and multi-purpose spaces. Sliding partitions provide flexibility for classroom sizes, and a corridor extends to an outdoor courtyard that doubles as a teaching space when the weather is warm. The structural efficiency and seismic performance of the mass timber construction are essential in the region, which is prone to earthquakes.

Ample use of wood made for a beautiful, safe learning environment

Expansive airtight glazing provides students and teachers with plenty of natural daylight and is complemented by the warmth of exposed wood throughout. Beyond aesthetics, the generous use of visible wood delivers added thermal and acoustic benefits. Overall, the project showcases how schools can take advantage of wood to construct beautiful, affordable, and safe learning environments that can serve their communities for decades to come.