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“Wood” You Believe it? Changing the Way We Build Mid-Rise in Ontario

First Mid-Rise Toronto
The first mid-rise wood building planned for Toronto: Heartwood The Beach Condos. Image: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc. Design by Quadrangle Architects Ltd. and Moses Structural Engineers, for Fieldgate Urban and Hullmark Developments Ltd. Click here to learn more about this project.

It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since the Ontario Building Code changed to allow 6-storey wood buildings. And in that time many of you have been in touch with us asking a lot of questions. We have plenty of information to share on this topic, and we even launched a new site that’s all about mid-rise wood buildings.

Finding a solution that works for your site and your pro forma takes considerable effort, especially when the building code requirements have changed.

In the first five years after British Columbia made similar changes to their building code, over 150 buildings were being planned, underway or completed! With a construction market almost double that of BC, this method of construction has the potential to profoundly change how we build condos, rentals and mix-used buildings in Ontario.

Industry and Market Impact of Mid-Rise Wood Buildings

Mid-rise buildings create liveable neighbourhoods where restaurants and retail shops are within close walking distance. This building type encourages ground level retail, especially in urban areas where we can reduce dependency on single occupant vehicles.

The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and Golden Horseshoe population is expected to almost triple in the next 20 to 30 years.

According to an industry study on market impact, the demand for mid-rise buildings is expected to almost triple in the next 10 years. With demands for livable neighbourhoods and the needs of an increasing population, wood mid-rise offers a great opportunity for cities and developers. For most developers and architects we encounter, designing these buildings is a new endeavour, so cost and performance are always at the forefront of our discussions. Layouts, acoustics and fire performance are closely intermingled with the structural design. We know that. And we know you need a building that performs to high standards.

Considerations for Mid-Rise Design

  • Feasibility: site issues, zoning, site plan approvals, unit layouts.
  • Acoustics: wall assemblies that perform structurally and acoustically.
  • Window walls: floors stiff enough to accommodate the large window openings consumers have grown to expect.
  • Roof top equipment: roof layouts and design to optimize equipment installation and performance.
  • Building envelope: design for higher thermal performance and fire rating.
  • Shrinkage: when or if the wood frame shrinks, it needs to be designed right from day one.

“It’s all manageable; you just need to sit down and address issues early in the design process.”

– David Moses in Ontario Home Builder Magazine, Winter 2016 Edition. Read it here.

Disciplines You Need to Get the Job Done

  • Structural with wood mid-rise expertise
  • Architectural
  • Planning
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Civil
  • Traffic
  • Geotechnical
  • Code specialist
  • Acoustics
  • Construction manager

Benefits of an Experienced and Knowledgeable Team
Does your team have the answers you need NOW?

One of the best solutions is to have a team that works through these issues every day and understands the interactions between the disciplines. Have you wondered about how to achieve acoustic separation between suites? How do zero lot line sites affect the design? Will setbacks affect our interiors? Not knowing the answers to questions like these can have serious implications, especially if they are not caught and answered early in the zoning and design process. Will I find a builder who has the skills to build a wood mid-rise building?

Moses Structural Engineers is part of a team working with the College of Carpenters to ensure that their graduates leave with a fundamental understanding of how to build wood mid-rise buildings (these buildings are not the same a single family wood frame homes).

“At Moses Structural Engineers, we help our clients everyday, whether you are a developer, architect, CFO, development director, project manager, contract manager or builder. We help you get the best possible design information and keep your project on track.”

MSE Construction Site

Mid-Rise Design with Moses Structural Engineers
Our Team, Your Asset.

  • 20 years of expertise in structural wood engineering design consulting
  • Extensive experience in wood frame engineering and mid-rise buildings
  • In-house analytical tools for designing mid-rise buildings
  • Active participant in codes, standards development and training
  • Peer reviewers of the latest industry guidelines
  • Expertise in prefabrication and construction sequencing
  • Up-to-date information on standards and shifts in the industry
  • Early feasibility support for assessing viability of building sites

Think about the needs of your company. Don’t settle. Choose Moses Structural Engineers for your next project. Contact us now and get started!

David is a leader in the field of structural engineering and has provided many innovative solutions to address structural challenges in wood buildings, notably in the integration on non-combustible exits in six storey wood buildings in Ontario. Having attended his presentations and consulted with him on a number of matters, it is clear that he has high degree of expertise and is always looking for new ways to collaborate. David is extremely enthusiastic about his work and is a pleasure to work with.

– Jack Keays, Director
Vortex Fire Consulting Inc.

HGC Engineering has had the pleasure of working with Moses Structural Engineers on the design of a mid-rise residential project based upon a Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and concrete composite structure. While unique for downtown Toronto, David conducted extensive research and obtained engineering data from sources in Western Canada, Europe and elsewhere to assist the design team in making the correct engineering decisions. We thank David for taking the lead on this ground-breaking project.

– Brian Chapnik, HGC Engineering
Howe Gastmeier Chapnik Limited

Our Services for the mid-rise industry:

  • Design in steel, wood and concrete
  • Multi-unit wood-frame engineering
  • Custom residential and multi-unit residential
  • Commercial, institutional and industrial
  • Third party review
  • Feasibility studies
  • Timber, glulam and CLT design
  • Inspections and assessments

Contact Moses Structural Engineers for your mid-rise project.