Student Housing, Okanagan College, Vernon & Salmon Arm


Vernon and Salmon Arm


Vernon – 4,468 square metres

Salmon Arm – 2,791 square metres


Fall 2024

Structural engineer

Aspect Structural Engineers

Timber supplier/fabricator


Project Materials

Cross-laminated timber (CLT)

Glue-laminated timber (Glulam)


Structural Systems

Light frame

Mass timber

Post + beam


Okanagan College turns to energy-efficient light-frame and mass timber construction to offer students more affordable student housing options. The result is the first on-campus student residences to be added in more than three decades.

  • B.C.-sourced prefabricated light-frame and mass timber construction is helping to boost housing while providing jobs to the local economy.
  • Combined the projects provide 160 beds for Okanagan College students starting in fall 2024.
  • The projects achieve Level 4 of the B.C. Energy Step Code, the highest rating for energy efficient buildings in the province.

Affordable energy-efficient wood construction dramatically boosts student housing capacity

Thanks to affordable light-frame wood construction, combined with mass timber features, Okanagan College is dramatically boosting its housing capacity. This marks the first on-campus student residences to be added in more than 30 years. The Vernon and Salmon Arm projects feature a 4-storey light-frame and mass-timber facility for student accommodation and supportive study spaces.

The combined projects provide 160 beds at the two campuses, with 100 beds in Vernon and 60 beds in Salmon Arm. Students enjoy enhanced access to educational services and social programming, allowing them to live on campus while attending Okanagan College, in modern, accessible and healthy housing. Both complexes have student social gathering spaces and private study areas as well as micro suites or double and four-person units to accommodate a range of student needs. The projects include cultural spaces with enhanced ventilation to support Indigenous ceremonial activities and outdoor talking circle. Central to First Nations culture, the talking circle serves as a focal point for both traditional and informal gatherings, enhancing the outdoor amenities.

Innovative blend of light-frame and mass timber construction

For both projects residential units are constructed of light-frame construction while the amenities and common areas feature mass timber— exposed glued-laminated timber (glulam) columns and beams supporting cross-laminated timber (CLT) decking. To further streamline construction, light-frame wall panels were prefabricated offsite and delivered just-in-time as floors were installed.

The Vernon project houses a childcare facility while the Salmon Arm project includes a ground floor fitness facility along with study rooms on each level. The Vernon project strategically links an Indigenous Garden in the south to a winter-themed plaza in the north, embracing both culture and nature. It features mass timber in public areas, complemented by timber columns designed for carvings after they are installed, blending structure with art. Currently, discussions with local Indigenous groups are shaping the art installations for the ceilings and floors of the main indoor gathering space, ensuring cultural representation.

In Salmon Arm, public spaces showcase mass timber along with timber columns from local sources, prepared for carvings to be added after installation. The project team is working with local Indigenous groups to finalize art installations for the ceilings and floors of the main indoor gathering area.

To be completed in time for the 2024 fall term, the projects achieve Level 4 of the BC Energy Step Code, the highest level of rating for energy efficient buildings. The projects are complemented by an additional six storey light-frame wood and mass timber housing project at the Kelowna campus.