The newest addition to UBC’s sustainable building portfolio, Brock Commons Tallwood House was developed as part of the Tall Wood Building Demonstration Initiative launched in 2013 by National Resources Canada and Canadian Wood Council to showcase wood-based solutions for high-rise buildings and build industry capabilities in Canada.
In addition to providing much-needed housing for students, the building also aligns with UBC’s Campus as a Living Lab initiative, as a demonstration of innovation and an opportunity for research and learning.
The first building of what will become the Brock Commons complex, one of UBC’s mixed-use residential hubs, Tallwood House provides accommodation for more than 400 students as well as study and amenity spaces.
The hybrid structure of the building is composed of:
- Prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor panels, supported on glue-laminated timber (GLT) and parallel strand lumber (PSL) columns;
- Cast-in-place concrete foundations, ground floor, and elevator/stair cores;
- Steel connections and roof structure.
To achieve code compliance a unique site-specific regulation (SSR), UBC Tall Wood Building Regulation was developed, and the proposed structure and fire safety solutions were reviewed by local and international experts.
The intention of the SSR is to ensure that the occupant health and safety protections are stringent, and it included measures such as the encapsulation of the mass timber elements in gypsum board to achieve the required fire resistance rating and a sprinkler system with an on-site backup water tank and fire pump.
There are numerous environmental benefits of building with mass timber:
- Renewable and regional available resource
- Carbon sequestration
- Smaller carbon footprint than steel and concrete
- Lighter structure requiring a smaller foundation and therefore fewer materials
- Prefabrication capabilities, faster installation and reduced construction waste
- De-constructability, reuse and recycling potential
All mass timber elements in this building were fabricated in BC from regional forestry products supporting the local industry. In addition, Tallwood House will be LEED v4 Gold certified.
RESEARCH & EDUCATION
Tallwood House provides a unique opportunity to study mass timber design and construction in a tall wood building. A research collaboration between UBC’s Sustainability Initiative and faculty members in Forestry and Civil Engineering has been studying the design, manufacturing, construction, commissioning and operation processes and document the challenges, solutions and lessons learned.
Morning forward, sensors embedded within the mass-timber elements will enable researchers to study the long-term performance of the structure.
The experiences and lessons learned from Tallwood House contribute to a growing body of knowledge of mass timber and tall wood projects that can inform future research, building projects, policies and regulations.
TALLWOOD HOUSE VIRTUAL TOURS
Brock Commons Phase 1: Overview 
Brock Commons Phase 1: Design Modelling 
Brock Commons Phase 1: Code Compliance 
Brock Commons Tallwood House: Construction Overview 
Brock Commons Tallwood House: Construction Modelling 
Brock Commons Tallwood House: Performance Overview 
Brock Commons Tallwood House Structural Performance 
Mass Timber Cost Review 
Tallwood House Factsheet 
Tallwood House Storyboards 
THESES & DISSERTATIONS
Feasibility Study of Using Cross-Laminated Timber core for the UBC Tall Wood Building [Moudgil, 2017]
Innovation in Hybrid Mass Timber High-rise Construction: A Case Study of UBC’s Brock Commons Project [Fallahi, 2017]
Investigating the Performance of the Construction Process of an 18-storey Mass-timber Hybrid Building [Kasbar, 2017]
Quality control and quality assurance in hybrid mass timber high-rise construction : a case study of the Brock Commons [Calderon, 2018]
Construction process innovation on Brock Commons Tallwood House [Staub-French et al., 2020]
Construction productivity assessment on Brock Commons Tallwood House [Kasbar et al., 2020]
An overview of the construction of a tall wood building: Brock Commons Tallwood House [Pilon et al. 2018]
UBC Brock Commons alternative structural design with mass-timber cores [Connolly et al. 2018]
Lessons Learned from Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Costing of Two Residential Towers at the University of British Columbia [Teshnizi et al. 2017]
Structural Design, Approval, and Monitoring of a UBC Tall Wood Building [Tannert et al., 2017]
Design and construction of a 53-meter tall timber building at the university of British Columbia [Poirier et al., 2016]
Case Study: an 18-storey tall mass timber hybrid student residence at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver [Fast et al., 2016]
Additional technical and industry information on Brock Commons and mass-timber construction can be found on the website of our research partners: