Brock Commons Tallwood House

Type of Building
Education, Residential
15,120 sq. m.
Acton Ostry Architects Inc.
Structural Engineer
Fast + Epp
Construction Manager
Urban One Builders
Project Owner
University of British Columbia
Wood Supplier
Cross-laminated timber (CLT), Glue-laminated timber (glulam), Parallel strand lumber (PSL)

Wood is increasingly recognized as an important, innovative and safe building material choice. This new tall wood building reflects UBC’s leadership in sustainable construction and our commitment to providing our students with more on-campus housing.

Santa J. Ono, President University of British Columbia

Project Overview

Brock Commons Tallwood House is a mass timber hybrid student residence at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The building consists of a 17-storey mass timber hybrid superstructure atop a one-storey concrete podium with two full-height concrete cores that house elevators, stairs and services conduits. The roof is made of prefabricated sections of steel beams and metal decking. It houses more than 400 students in 272 studios and 33 four-bedroom units as well as study and social gathering spaces.

As one of the first buildings of its kind in the world to be constructed at 18 storeys, a full-scale, two-storey proof of concept mock-up was built off-site early in the planning process. Construction of Brock Commons finished on schedule and on budget. The structure was completed by a crew of nine wood installers 70 days after the prefabricated components were first delivered to the site—two months faster than planned.

The building demonstrated mass timber as a practical building material in a high-rise application. 

Wood Use

Innovation and advancements in mass timber products and construction systems are enabling developers to build taller and larger with wood.

The Brock Commons Tallwood House includes 17 storeys of cross laminated timber (CLT) floors supported on glue laminated timber (glulam) and parallel strand lumber (PSL) columns atop a concrete base. An extensive CLT canopy runs the length of the building. On the 18th floor, the wood structure has been left exposed for demonstration purposes.

UBC and the design team chose mass timber due to its strength, safety and performance, as well as wood’s lighter carbon footprint. The innovative structural system is economically viable, repeatable and adaptable to other building types and uses. The construction of the mass timber structure resulted in one-third of the traffic to site to transport materials, resulting in significant benefits to neighbours.