Design options for 3 + 4 storey wood school buildings in BC

This study illustrates the range of possible wood construction approaches for school buildings that are up to four storeys in height.

As land values continue to rise, particularly in higher-density urban environments, schools with smaller footprints will become increasingly more necessary to satisfy enrollment demands. There are currently a number of planned new school projects throughout British Columbia that anticipate requiring either three-or four-storey buildings, and it is forecasted that the demand for school buildings of this size will continue to rise.

This study is closely related to the report Risk Analysis and Alternative Solution for Three- and Four-Storey Schools of Mass Timber and/or Wood-Frame Construction prepared by GHL Consultants, which explores the building code related considerations of wood construction for school buildings that are up to four storeys in height. Though wood construction offers a viable structural material option for these buildings, the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC 2018) currently limits schools comprised of wood construction to a maximum of two storeys, while also imposing limits on the overall floor area. As such, the reader is referred to the GHL report for further information regarding building code compliance (with a particular emphasis on fire protection) for wood school buildings.

Kwakiutl Wagalus School, Port Hardy, BC
Photo credit: Lubor Trubka Associates Architects
Design Options for Three- and Four-Storey Wood School Buildings in British Columbia

This study focuses on the main classroom blocks within a school building, as these portions of the building are the ones that are the most likely to take advantage of an increased number of storeys.