Timber towers trending in Toronto

77 Wade exterior
© Bogdan Newman Caranci

77 Wade Avenue is the latest made from trendy Nail-Laminated Timber.

Every few months, members of the green building community get together on Toronto's Wade Avenue for High Performance Design Meets Boots on the Ground, looking out from Propeller Coffee at a big empty lot. In not too long we will be looking at a big green building, 77 Wade Avenue, designed by Bogdan Newman Caranci.

As Hines and Michael Green demonstrated in Minneapolis with the T3, tenants love the old industrial post-and-beam look. But the "new digital age industrial workers" and their bosses also like modern big spans, modern wiring, and don't like noise and dust coming from the tenants upstairs. They really want what I call "new old" buildings, which is what 77 Wade appears to be.

The key design intent of this project was to fuse contrasting materials to enhance the inherent warmth of an exposed wood structure comprised of composite mass timber, concrete and steel structural assemblies. Unlike the construction of 20th century post and beam buildings, construction of 77 Wade optimizes the use of a mass- timber hybrid structural system by way of pre-fabricated components and just-in-time delivery and construction practices to achieve spans akin to traditional concrete and steel superstructure projects for modern commercial office buildings.

Cutaway drawing© Bogdan Newman Caranci

Judging from the cutaway rendering, the concrete deck on top is almost as thick as the Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT) below, and it is sitting on steel beams. NLT is the traditional way of building a warehouse floor, made by just nailing lumber together. But old NLT warehouses can be noisy and schmutz often falls out between the gaps.

composite floorStructurecraft composite floor/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Structurecraft in British Columbia has developed concrete composites where their dowel-laminated timber and the concrete topping work together to make a strong composite floor; 77 Wade may be similar to this.

Is it more efficient than a steel deck or concrete building, when it gets this hybridized? I am not so sure, but it's great marketing.

Interior rendering© Bogdan Newman Caranci

The Client’s primary objective is to create a character driven built form that is modern, yet reminiscent of the openness, lightness, using materials of traditional multi-storey warehouse loft buildings....77 Wade Avenue celebrates the wood and showcases the steel beams and connections and remains true to creating an industrial aesthetic with a modern and naturally lighted warehouse character.

There is more going on that makes this a very interesting building. The site is near a wonderful linear park and bike trail, near a subway station and very close to the express train to the airport and downtown. It's got lots of bike parking along with change and shower rooms.

The project underwent an energy modelling exercise from which building systems were selected on the basis of energy efficiency and optimization. Sustainably sourced timber, green roof implementation and green construction practices are proposed to introduce sustainable design elements into 77 Wade Avenue.

77 Wade angled© Bogdan Newman Caranci

And, there is really good coffee right across the street, although in this rendering they show it replaced with grass.

Everybody is competing to build the tallest wood building, but this is the kind that makes the most sense: 8 storeys is still tall for wood but not too tall for a building. It's a warehousey building in a warehousey, transitional part of town, a mix of old wood tech like Nail Laminated Timber and modern design and services. We need more of this.

Timber towers trending in Toronto
77 Wade Avenue is the latest, to be built from trendy Nail-Laminated Timber.

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