Building Fast with Mass Timber

Why wood? As cited by the Canadian Wood Council and backed up by their numerous case studies, “wood is renewable, versatile, meets code, and costs less." Significant efforts by the CWC have resulted in a growing awareness and demand for the utilization of wood in modern building construction. Changes to the BC Building Code in 2009 and the expected changes (2015) to the National Building Code of Canada are resulting in increased wood use in mid-rise construction. The BC Wood First Act, implemented in 2009, has also contributed to an increased demand for using more wood for all publicly-funded buildings in BC.

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Why mass timber? Multiple studies in the last two years have shown that the construction cost of a well-designed mass timber building is very close to the cost of a concrete or steel building – generally within +/- 3-5% on total construction cost – and often greatly increases the speed of construction, by up to 20-30%.

On our own Surrey Christian School – a 20,000 sqft building comprising FLT on Glulam beams and columns – the 2-storey superstructure was fully erected, including shear walls, in 4.5 days. In addition to the reduced costs and construction time, there is the benefit of structural efficiency - a mass timber building can be up to 75% lighter than a concrete building, reducing foundation sizes and easing handling of materials.

Some examples of timber projects across the world and their construction times are below. For more details on many of the projects, refer to the excellent Survey of International Tall Wood Buildings put out by FII earlier this year. Note not all erection times are directly comparable due to the widely varying building types included.

Project & LocationStoriesFloor StructureVertical StructureGFATimber ErectionErection Speed
Surrey Christian School2NLTGlulam Post + Beam21500sqft4.5 days4780 sqft/day
Svartlamoen, Trondheim, Norway5CLTCLT Walls + Cores23200sqft10 days2320 sqft/day
LCT One, Austria8NLT concrete compositeConcrete Core, Glulam Post + Beam17200sqft8 days2150 sqft/day
Wohnanlage Wagramerstrasse, Vienna7CLTConcrete Core, CLT exterior walls90800sqft50 days1820 sqft/day
Limnologen, Sweden8CLTCLT Core, Glulam Post + Beam115200sqft80 days1440 sqft/day
3xGrun, Berlin5CLTGlulam Post / LVL Beam31200sqft25 days1250 sqft/day
Cenni di Cambiamento, Milan9CLTCLT Walls + Cores183000sqft150 days1220 sqft/day
Holz88CLTConcrete Core, CLT exterior walls18700sqft16 days1170 sqft/day
Stadhaus, London9CLTCLT Walls + Cores25300sqft24 days1050 sqft/day
Forte, Melbourne10CLTCLT Walls + Cores31100sqft30 days1040 sqft/day
UBC Earth Sciences, Vancouver5LSL / CLTGlulam Post + Beam170000sqft180 days940 sqft/day
MEC Headquarters4NLTGlulam Post + Beam111900sqft120 days930 sqft/day
Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, UBC, Vancouver4NLTGlulam Post + Beam61100sqft80 days760 sqft/day
Bridport House, London8CLTCLT Walls + Cores45400sqft60 days760 sqft/day
Wood Innovation and Design Centre6CLTCLT + Glulam Post + Beam49000sqft100 days490 sqft/day
E3, Berlin7NLT concrete compositeGlulam Post + Beam13700sqft40 days340 sqft/day