The 90 light-wood-frame modules that create the five-storey Jacobson Hall were assembled in half the time it would have taken to build using conventional construction.
- The student residence was framed completely with wood, containing 90 light-wood-frame modules, 3.7 metres wide in lengths that varied from 9.8 to 18.9 metres.
- Each module took about 14 days to finish at the factory, a process which is 50% faster than conventional construction. Crews began craning them into place in mid-May and the modules were fully assembled by mid-July.
- The residence opened in time for the start of the school year; 3.5 months after the first module was put in place.
Trinity Western University (TWU) had a rapidly growing student population but was short on housing. It only had on-campus housing available for fewer than 25 percent of its 4,000 students. Jacobson Hall was built in just nine months, adding beds for 220 students. At the time of its completion in 2018, it was the tallest wood-framed modular housing complex in Canada.
Modular made for an efficient and nearly complete package
Modular construction brought several advantages to the project, including a faster schedule, more predictable construction costs, improved quality control, reduced site impact and greater construction efficiency. Wood-framed modular construction also provided improved energy efficiency and noise control, since both the space between the modules as well as the walls, floors and ceilings of the modules themselves were pre-installed, as well as fixtures, electrical and flooring. When the modules were lifted into place, the units contained beds, desks and even the mattresses. It took 14 days to complete each of the 90 modules, a process that is about 50 percent faster than conventional construction. Once each unit was assembled, it was then shipped by truck to the campus and craned into place. With five to 10 workers on site at any given time, assembly of the modules began mid-May and was finished by mid-July. Timing was key to the project to meet the start of the fall semester. Students moved into the new hall in September 2018.
Canada’s first midrise modular project up to code
Jacobson Hall was the first five-storey modular project built in Canada, and wood met the seismic, wind and structural performance requirements. For example, designers tightened wall stud spacing on the bottom two floors and used select Douglas-fir dimension lumber, dried to a lower moisture content than typical to minimize framing impacts from shrinking and swelling. For seismic requirements, crews secured the modules to the concrete foundation using Anchor Tiedown System (ATs) rods. They also increased the number and length of seismic straps.
An abundance of wood
Jacobson Hall was framed completely with wood. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) was used to frame the elevator shaft; modules were then connected to either side of the structure. The design team chose 2 x 12 floor joists, spaced 16 inches on centre, for the floors and the bottom modules, in order to accommodate thicker insulation (R40) against the slab. Floors on the upper modules used 2 x 10 dimension lumber, and some were doubled to handle loading. Glue-laminated timber (glulam) beams framed the openings and common areas in each of the suites and floors were covered in plywood sheathing and underlay to accommodate any type of floor cover.