In an innovative twist, the design team for North Vancouver’s city hall opted to celebrate a wood product—laminated strand lumber (LSL)—that is usually kept hidden behind drywall by exposing it as the star feature of the building.
- The building used two timber structural systems: a composite glue-laminated timber (glulam) and concrete system, and laminated strand lumber (LSL) panels.
- Exposed LSL panels are both the building structure and a finished ceiling.
- Large-scale LSL panels offer dimensional stability and speed of construction
Inventive use of laminated-strand lumber, a locally sourced sustainable wood product
This adaptive rejuvenation of the City of North Vancouver’s existing 1970s municipal hall and library, makes inventive use of laminated strand lumber (LSL)—a highly sustainable local-sourced material made of fast growing aspens or popular—forming a large-scale panelized mass-timber structure for this light-filled central atrium and civic gathering space. The nearly 70-metre long atrium, supported by glue-laminated timber (glulam) columns, provides linkages between various municipal departments and the public they serve. Along with this, the renovation provides public service counters and a conversion of the existing library into staff offices and meeting space. The result is a flexible, productive working environment that demonstrates the city’s commitment to sustainability.
Warm glow of wood come with cost savings
The long LSL panels are fabricated into box beams. Inside electrical and other services are hidden from view. Prefabricated offsite and quickly assembled onsite, the panel design makes for a fast, less disruptive process than conventional on-site construction. LSL is an economical material, more often concealed by drywall. But in this instance its left exposed and given a clear finish. At sundown, the atrium’ rectilinear volume glows warming, showcasing its wood structure, as it floats out over the facility’s main entrance, emblematic of the City’s commitment to civic transparency.
“The challenge was that we had two existing buildings that were concrete that we were going to join together with a central atrium space. We decided that space should all be built in wood for a couple of reasons—one, to make it a very beautiful space to be very inviting to the public. The other was we wanted a lightweight structure and ultimately an innovative structure that would really celebrate the importance of wood in our community”
Michael Green, architect