J. Eric Karsh presented From Small to Tall: The Road to the Wood Innovation and Design Centre at the Wood Solutions Fair at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Oct. 30.
Karsh began by highlighting 3D software and CNC fabrication as innovations that have pushed the industry forward, but the main innovation is timber systems.
The North Vancouver Civic Centre used timber systems such as cross-laminated timber panels (CLT) as part of the roof structure and also for acoustic purposes.
Glulam was also used in the flooring.
The Earth Sciences Building at the University of British Columbia was built on the left wing out of reinforced concrete, but Karsh said a large amount of wood was also used.
Wood and concrete were also connected, using a wood-steel composite system pioneered in Europe.
CLT was used both for the roof and the canopy surrounding the building.
A wood feature in the atrium of the building is a glulam staircase which is cantilevered.
"The systems have to be very rigid to work," Karsh said.
Another project Karsh worked on was Ronald McDonald House, which was four separate structures.
The buildings used three-ply CLT for the walls, as well as some exposed CLT in common areas.
The Tall Wood Report, published in 2012, looked at the possibility of building a 30-storey wood buildings. It was met with skepticism, but out of that report came the Wood Innovation and Design Centre.
He posed the question of why use wood?
Concrete produces carbon, but wood stores it.
However, Karsh cautioned that it is important to use wood in a sustainable manner and to maintain proper forest practices.
The Wood Innovation and Design Centre will house the University of Northern British Columbia's Masters in Timber Engineering program on the bottom three floors and the rest of the six-storey building will be rented to tenants.
At eight storeys, the building is one of the tallest buildings made of wood on the planet.
The WDIC uses corrugated floor plate, which allows for electrical services, ducts and sprinklers.
The core of the building is entirely CLT, with post and beam around it.
The project was awarded in Jne 2013, and was turned over to the owner August 2014.
"On a tight schedule like this, working with a supplier is critical," Karsh said.
The floor section was five to seven-ply panels, with a two-ply panel on top, creating the corrugated system.
Steel-wood composite connectors were used in the floor system.
The panels for the core were up to 40 feet high.
Karsh likened putting the building together to building a Meccano set.
Floor panels were flown in, with connectors pre-installed on the ground.
Karsh said a CLT construction site was noted as "very quiet, and very clean."
The great thing about timber is that you don't need to cure it, Karsh said, so construction continued throughout the winter, even given the harsh weather in Prince George.
"There are six steel beams in the entire building, due to the elevator shaft," he said.
Stairs were challenging, because scissor stairs are tough to do using CLT.
The project used CLT, PSL, plywood, glulam, and more.
"Architecturally, we had plenty of species," Karsh said.
Charring wood protects the building from fungus and insects, but also acts as a fire retardant.
Japan has been using this practice for centuries, Karsh said, and it was used for the centre.
Karsh is the principal at Equilibrium Consulting Inc. and his Vancouver-based firm worked on the centre.