Building Magazine


2015 Wood Design Awards in B.C. honour the best in architectural and structural wood design

Innovative architectural and structural design in large wood buildings, including mid-rise and commercial structures, headlined the 2015 Wood Design Awards event at the Vancouver Convention Centre (West) this evening.  The 11th annual event, organized and hosted by Wood WORKS! BC, honoured excellence in wood building and design, and recognized leadership and innovation in wood use. More than 360 people attended this year’s celebration of wood, including architects, structural engineers, project teams, local government and industry sponsors.

Wood WORKS! is a national industry-led program of the Canadian Wood Council, with a goal to support innovation and provide leadership on the use of wood and wood products. Wood WORKS! BC provides education, training and technical expertise to building and design professionals involved with projects throughout BC, and is a resource on mid-rise construction and the Wood First Act in BC. 

There were 107 nominations in 12 categories from all over the province, as well as an international nomination of a BC project by a New York-based designer.  All projects showcase distinctive and unique qualities of wood such as strength, beauty, versatility, and cost-effectiveness.

Lynn Embury-Williams is executive director of Wood WORKS! BC. “Each and every one of these projects is spectacular in its own right, and demonstrates how wood can be used in innovative ways as an architectural and structural building material,” explained Ms. Embury-Williams.  “Wood products and systems have become the material of choice in mid-rise residential as well as for the institutional, commercial and industrial sectors. This is a paradigm shift, and it’s encouraging, as our communities and cities want more sustainable and healthier built environments. Here in BC, designers and builders are leading the way by using wood because it is cost-effective; is renewable; has a smaller carbon footprint; and because it creates beautiful and comfortable spaces where people love to live and work.”

The panel of four judges included Paul Newman, Executive Director, Market Access and Trade, Council of Forest Industries, Vancouver, BC; Thomas Tannert, PhD, P.Eng., Associate Chair Wood Building Design and Construction, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC; Elsa Lam, BES, MArch II, PhD, MRAIC, Editor, Canadian Architect Magazine, Toronto, Ontario; and Don Lovell, Architect AIBC, CD, M.Arch. (Retired), Victoria, BC.

The Wood Champion Award was presented to Marie-Odile Marceau, Principal, McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd. in Vancouver. Ms. Marceau has a long and distinguished architectural career in both the public and private sectors. Her portfolio of sensitive and profound school projects in many First Nations communities has provided a lasting and significant positive learning impact on the students and communities alike. She championed the use of wood in these buildings primarily as cultural reference, but also as an economic driver. Wood is a building material readily available in many First Nations communities, and promotes the utilization of community labour in the harvest, transformation and erection of wood members.

Eric Karsh, Principal, Equilibrium Consulting Inc. in Vancouver, was awarded the Engineer Award. Known and respected internationally, he shows his love of using wood through innovative structural designs such as the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) “tilt up” balloon frame construction in his project, Ronald McDonald House BC  – a first in North America. This is a system combining the convenience of concrete with the advantages of wood. He has developed the use of curved, organic shapes, cut from sheets of three-ply cross-laminated timber to form elegant roof and column elements at the UBCO Fitness and Wellness Centre in Kelowna. Mr. Karsh also co-authored “The Case for Tall Wood Buildings” report which introduced an innovative mass timber panel construction concept. Mr. Karsh was also the structural engineer of record for the remarkable Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, BC.

The Architect Award was presented to Vancouver-based Michael Green Architecture. This firm is always working on the next extraordinary wood structure, and has an impressive line-up of projects ranging from airports in Prince George and Ottawa, to a landmark social welfare facility fashioned from CLT. The recently-completed Wood Innovation and Design Centre, the tallest contemporary wood structure in North America, demonstrates economical and repeatable technologies for building high-rise structures with timber. Mr. Green was also the co-author for “The Case for Tall Wood Buildings” which was the subject of his high profile TED Talk.

The Wood Innovation Award recognizes creative and innovative approaches in the use of wood in building and product design.  The winner of this category was Michael Green, Principal, Michael Green Architecture for his project, the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, BC. The structure represents a milestone in the future of tall wood buildings.  The project introduces new methods of working with mass timber panels, specifically cross- laminated timber, and is a true showcase for BC wood products. The jury described this project as, “An exquisite interplay of structure and finish to provide a translucent, warm and inviting structure. The attention to detail is evident throughout, and provides pleasing aesthetic patterns which are both convincing and alluring.”

The Environmental Performance Award was presented to Matheo Durfeld of BC Passive House for his project, BC Passive House Plant in Pemberton, BC. The award recognizes how wood products played a significant role in improving the overall environmental performance of a structure. The project was designed to meet the Passive House Standard, currently the world’s most rigorous energy standard.  The result: an 80-90 per cent reduction in the annual energy used for heating and cooling. The “wood first” approach for the structure of the building avoided approximately 365 metric tons of CO2 emissions. The jury stated that, “This building exemplifies the use of wood to achieve energy savings, and reduce environmental impact.”

Winners in the wood design categories include:

There were two Jury’s Choice awards:

  • Steve McFarlane, office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers inc. – Fort McMurray International Airport, Fort McMurray, AB
  • Thomas Leung, Thomas Leung Structural Engineering –  MEWS, UBC, Vancouver; Emerald Heights, Surrey; Dominion, New Westminster, BC

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *