Gibsons Elementary School


Gibsons, BC


4,300 square metres




KMBR Architects

Project Materials

Glue-laminated timber (Glulam)



Structural Systems

Low rise

Passive House / High performance

Post + beam


The plan for Gibsons Elementary School had been a seismic upgrade, but it was ultimately decided that building a smaller, energy-efficient school made more sense.

  • The facility serves both students and the community with separated spaces.
  • It is LEED Gold certified and was built in accordance with the Wood First Act.
  • Glue-laminated timber (glulam) beams and columns are the primary structural materials.

The rebuilt school’s design has achieved several accomplishments: it is certified LEED Gold, it follows the Wood First Act through extensive wood use and it serves the community’s needs as well as the students’ needs. The 14 classrooms are in a different wing than the gymnasium, neighbourhood learning centre spaces and multi-purpose areas. This makes it possible for the community to maximize usage of these facilities without disrupting academic spaces for the 300 or so students. The school replaces the old wood-frame Gibsons elementary that was built in 1950.

Exposed wood elements used throughout

Exposed structural wood elements are present throughout the building. Glue-laminated timber (glulam) beams and columns can be found indoors and outdoors, supporting the roof and its overhang. Joists and plywood sheathing used for the roof are equally left exposed. Extensive indoor wood paneling, lighter in colour, complements the deeper hues of the glulam, joists and plywood.

An act to create a culture of wood

The exposed wood ceilings and significant clerestory glazing throughout provide an open, airy and cheerful atmosphere, particularly in the two-storey foyer gathering space. Wood brought warmth to the community project and fulfilled legislation that was launched in 2009 to promote and support B.C.’s wood technology. The idea behind the Wood First Act is to encourage a “culture of wood” by requiring the use of wood products as the primary building material in all new provincially funded buildings.