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Working With Wood: Innovation in Marketing, Design and Building the First GTA Projects



Cabin_Exterior

Toronto Builder Magazine features our mid-rise wood projects:

For more on mid-rise wood buildings, visit 6wood.ca.

Raising the bar isn’t easy. It takes guts. It takes time, tenacity and a team of experts driving toward a common goal.

Innately, innovators are risk takers and while sometimes there is glory in being the first, there is always a story behind what it took to get there. “I talked the talk for years and now I am very happy to be able to walk the walk,” said Leith Moore, a Past Chair of BILD and Vice President of Fieldgate Urban, of his newly-launched project, Heartwood the Beach. The project is one of the contenders to be the first six-storey wood residential building constructed in the GTA.

Six-storey wood buildings have only been permitted in Ontario since January 1, 2015. Until then, the Ontario Building Code only allowed wood buildings to four storeys. The push for six-storey wood was an industry initiative led by BILD, Ontario Home Builders’ Association, RESCON and the Canadian Wood Council. It took many years and included research, education and outreach.

Six-storey wood was a priority for Moore when he was Chair of BILD and later when he was OHBA President. He bought the site at Queen Street East and Woodbine Avenue in January 2015 with the intention of constructing a six-storey wood building. With Hullmark Developments as a partner and Quadrangle Architects as designers, the team has also engaged professionals, including Moses Structural Engineers, with a range of expertise to work through the planning and design process.

Both Quadrangle Architects and Moses Structural Engineers were recognized last November as innovators and champions of wood building by Ontario Wood Works, who awarded them with wood advocate awards.

In December a building permit application was made, the first to be received by an Ontario municipality for a residential six-storey building under the new Code, and they expect to begin construction this summer.

Across town in the Queen West neighbourhood, BILD members Curated Properties and architects RAW Design are also working on a six-storey wood building called The Cabin. Anticipating a building permit by June, the team has also been working through the planning process over the last year and is eager to build a new and much-needed housing type in the city.

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“We wanted to bring a Canadian rural, yet modernistic approach to the city,” Adam Ochshorn, principal of Curated Properties said of his latest project where each of the 25 two-storey units will showcase outdoor spaces like yard, private rooftop gardens and terraces.

Within just one year of the Ontario Building Code amendment to allow six-storey wood construction, this new and innovative building type is showing great promise.

In fact, a number of BILD members have seized the day, responding to the chance to try something different and create a new housing type for GTA homebuyers with enthusiasm and a renewed competitive spirit.

Six-storey wood buildings demand innovation on many levels, but especially in design, construction and marketing.

When the building code changed to allow the increase in wood construction from four to six storeys, it was a launching point for design innovation. These buildings cannot be designed as Part 9 buildings, so professionals like architects and structural engineers must become part of a multi-disciplinary team that assists in the detailed design of the project. As a result, these teams take a dynamic and integrative approach to ensuring Code regulations are followed and strategically selecting a variety of materials to construct the building safely.

Six-storey wood construction demands innovation from the training of new skills to the techniques used during the building process. Tradespeople who have worked on low-rise homes, such as stacked townhomes, will have the general expertise to continue upward construction on six-storey wood projects. However, builders in British Columbia, where the Building Code changed in 2009 to allow for six-storey wood construction, have said that there will still be a learning curve as innovative ways to construct these buildings evolve.

On the marketing side, developers are using new and innovative techniques to showcase the first two projects out of the gate in the GTA. One uses its exterior property hoarding as an educational tool for the neighbourhood. The panels explain the significance of using wood as its main building material. The other has created a rustic- chic wooden cabin as its sales centre to give potential home buyers a real sense of the building’s unique design and construction materials.

Read the full article here.


Image Credits
Cabin: Artform.