University of Toronto to build 14-storey academic tower

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Rendering courtesy of MJMA and Patkau Architects

The University of Toronto is building a 14-storey academic tower using timber on its campus in downtown Toronto. Once complete, it would be the tallest mass timber and concrete hybrid building in North America.

The university’s wood tower will be financed in part by government subsidies, and through university funds and philanthropy, according to Gilbert Delgado, U of T’s chief of university planning, design and construction.

The tower will be built above the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport and will house a number of academic units. The university is working on the project with Patkau Architects of Vancouver in partnership with MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects of Toronto and Blackwell Structural Engineers.

The new tower will be built with cross-laminated timber (CLT) – a method that allows producers to create larger, stronger wood pieces in more consistent dimensions. Many of the tower’s components will be manufactured offsite so by the time the pieces get to the construction site, they can be assembled easily, quickly and quietly, according to Watson.

U of T’s academic wood tower is still in the design phase of development, awaiting zoning changes to increase the height allowance for tall wood buildings.

Construction is expected to begin at the end of 2019.

As part of the Ontario government’s tall wood building incentive program, the province has established a Mass Timber Institute, bringing together organizations from across the province, including U of T and other academic institutions, to study the building practices and benefits of wood construction. MTI’s interim director is Anne Koven, an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Forestry.

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