Wood is the most sustainable construction material, low-embodied energy, quickly renewable resource. From a structural point of view, the modern engineered materials such as glue laminated timber have increased the strength of wood so that they have a much greater structural capacity. Finally, the warmth wood brings to the building – it creates an ambiance that is just fantastic.
Located at the University of British Columbia, the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) is designed to be the most sustainable building in North America. Wood was chosen as the primary building material to help meet that goal. The four-storey U-shaped building wraps around a large auditorium. It is organized into two four-storey wings, linked by an atrium, and it includes academic offices, meeting rooms and a 450-seat auditorium.
CIRS was designed to meet exemplary sustainability goals and high performance targets and to be both cost-effective and replicable. The overall design emphasizes simple forms and materials, exemplified by the exposed wood structure and visible connections.
CIRS was one of the first large, multi-story institutional buildings at UBC to be constructed of wood. The overall design emphasizes simple forms and materials, exemplified by the exposed wood structure and visible connections. It includes a combination of glue laminated timber (glulam) components, dimensional lumber, plywood, and a minimal amount of concrete.
The structure is a hybrid system. The basement and ground level auditorium are cast-in-place concrete, with a roof of curved glulam beams supporting a solid wood roof over the auditorium. The upper floors have a frame of engineered wood members supporting a solid wood floor assembly.