British Columbia’s Kelowna International Airport’s (YLW) Kelowna Flightcraft (KF) Centre for Excellence was designed using mass timber for its roofing, flooring, and staircase. The museum’s architects wanted to reflect the notion of how “technology meets tradition.” The facility was designed with KF Aerospace founder and aviation enthusiast, Barry Lapointe, in mind. Lapointe founded KF Aerospace in 1970 as a Canadian aircraft maintenance, repair, and modification company.
The KF Centre for Excellence is a non-profit museum and conference centre established to honour Okanagan’s 50-year history of aviation. The centre will include immersive projects, holographic, interactive media and hands-on visual displays. Lapointe configured the idea in his head and brought it to life directly from a napkin. He wanted the museum itself to be shaped like an aeroplane, with the location’s centre resembling the plane’s fuselage and the aircraft’s wings attached to the side of the museum. Not only did Lapointe want the centre to feel as if visitors were entering an aircraft, but he also wanted the architects to “use wood wherever possible.”
Wood Wherever Possible
Kelowna architect company, Meiklejohn Architects Inc., brought Lapointe’s wood dream to fruition. The architects designed the 60,000 square-foot mass timber building with expansive roof structures produced with wooden trusses which sweep and tilt and were inspired by aeronautical engineering. “The building showcases the latest structural innovation and mass timber construction throughout the superstructure. From optimized wing-shaped hangar roofs to a world-first doubly-curved CLT staircase, a creative approach to structural engineering is pivotal to the design of this project,” said Lucas Epp, vice president and head of Engineering at StructureCraft.
The project’s materials included cross-laminated timber (CLT), dowel-laminated timber (DLT) and glue-laminated timber (Glulam). DLT was used for the roofing and floors of the museum while the CLT panels were built in the hanger walls to create a lateral force-resisting solution. The roof’s unique feature resembling an aircraft’s “tail” is its signature identifier for visitors.
Distinctive CLT Staircase
The centre also features the world’s first doubly-curved, self-supported CLT staircase that descends into the museum’s main lobby. This impressive spiral staircase was designed and built by the British Columbia structural engineering firm, StructureCraft. The engineers utilized an innovative method called timber concrete composite (TCC) which involves constructing the structure/ building using curved CLT panels that are concealed with a concrete layer in an endless spiral. The combination of concrete and timber adds additional weight to dampen vibrations in the facility and also enhances the overall durability of the staircase’s structure.
“This building will truly be a landmark in the Okanagan Valley for decades to come,” said KF Centre for Excellence executive director, Paula Quinn.“It was built with the entire community in mind, to be a place where those from all generations, cultures and backgrounds can gather. It promises to be a must-see for tourists and locals alike, as well as a major asset to the local business community.”