The innovative high-rise features a hybrid mass timber structure and, at 18 storeys high, stands as one of the tallest wood buildings in the world.
Brock Commons Tallwood House is one of a growing number of mass-timber buildings around the world, which are taking advantage of new engineered wood products and construction techniques to create new and exciting wood building projects. The newest addition to UBC’s sustainable building portfolio, 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 accommodations 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 measure 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 a tall wood building. A research collaboration between USI and faculty in Forestry and Civil Engineering has been following the design, manufacturing, construction, commissioning and operation processes to document the challenges, solutions and lessons learned. Sensors embedded within the mass-timber elements will also 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.
Resources & Research
Education Resources - Case Studies
- 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 
Additional Education Resources
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]
Additional technical and industry information on Brock Commons and mass-timber construction can be found on the website of our research partners:
Tallwood House Virtual Tours
You can explore the building inside and out through the following virtual tours:
- Self-guided 3D Virtual Tour [Naturally:wood]
- 360° Virtual Tour Video [Natural Resources Canada]
- Building Sensors Virtual Tour App [SMT]