Brock Commons Tallwood House design process: Three part video series

Part 1: Overview

Brock Commons Tallwood House is a mass timber hybrid student residence at The University of British Columbia (UBC). At 18 storeys it was the tallest contemporary wood building in North America at the time of construction.

UBC and the design team chose mass timber due to its strength, safety and performance, not to mention wood’s lighter carbon footprint. The innovative structural system is economically viable, repeatable and adaptable to other building types and uses.

Brock Commons Tallwood House | Photo credit: KK Law

Part 2: Design Process

The integrated design process for Brock Commons Tallwood House emphasized the project as a whole. The design and construction teams were engaged at the very beginning of design, which led to efficiencies throughout the project.

A physical mock-up and 3D modelling software were used during the design phase. The mock-up allowed the team to test different types of connections, while the 3D modelling allowed the team to test different design solutions and sequence construction. This pre-planning ultimately cut down on construction time.

Part 3: Construction Process

Construction of the mass timber structure at the University of British Columbia’s Brock Commons Tallwood House took about nine weeks—two months ahead of schedule.

The average speed of the mass timber erection and envelope installation was two floors per week. This included the glue-laminated timber and parallel strand lumber columns and cross-laminated timber panels, encapsulation of the wood components with gypsum board, the pouring of a concrete topping, and installation of the envelope panels.

Having an integrated design team at the beginning of the project, as well as maximizing prefabricated wood components led to less traffic, reduced waste and a quieter, smaller site.