Unique Mass TImber Bridge Erected in Toronto

Edmonton-based PCL Construction celebrated the building of their first mass timber, two-storey pedestrian bridge at George Brown College’s (GBC) Limberlost Place last month. Connecting level five to level six of GBC’s Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences, the bridge stands 65 feet above street level to the awe of those on the ground.

The bridge installation involved prefabricating the individual timber pieces off-site and was built directly on-site. The process only took four days to assemble and complete. The timber bridge is 21.4 metres long and created with two glue-laminated trusses and four cross-laminated timber panels. It weighs approximately 31 metric tonnes as well. “It was incredibly exciting to witness the installation of the mass timber pedestrian bridge at Limberlost Place,” notes Nerys Rau, GBC’s project director for Limberlost Place. “It was really impressive to see the placement done with such methodical precision.

Thank you to all of our partners, consultants, and extraordinary tradespeople who have been integral in achieving this significant milestone. This accomplishment truly showcases the exemplary level of skill, and patience it takes to ensure everything goes according to plan,” says Myke Badry, PCL Toronto’s district manager. “Congratulations to the entire project team as we move one step closer to the completion of this revolutionary project that is setting a precedent in mass timber construction.”

Developed by two Canadian design teams, Acton Ostry Architects and MoriyamaTeshima Architects, the Limberlost Place contains net zero carbon emissions and is Ontario’s first mass timber institutional building. The Limberlost Place building houses GBC’s School of Architectural Studies, the School of Computer Technology, and the Brookfield Sustainability Institute. It’s currently being developed and is expected to be complete by the fall of 2024 and will open in 2025.

Mass Timber Buildings are Changing the Industry

The ten-storey timber building is predicted to be “a global model of mass-timber construction” that will run with no fuel-fired systems to effectively address climate change. Limberlost Place will be equipped with two solar chimneys, a 40 % window-to-wall ratio, and smart daylight sensors and dimming controls.

Canada has been making ample strides in terms of timber construction in the last few years. In 2016, the largest mass timber structure (at the time) was built in B.C. Standing at 18 storeys tall and 54 metres. he development of the University of B.C.’s Brock Commons building required less equipment, materials, and workers on site. Simon Lintz, business development manager for StructureCraft Builders in Delta spoke of the project saying “there are good advantages to using wood — essentially since the window for building in the north is a much shorter season. In the case of wood structures you can do a lot of the building off site and off-season. These building tend to go up fairly quickly.

In 2022, a 31-storey mass timber building with a height of 90 metres was developed by Unix Housing. The building’s design had 494 units and used cross-laminated timber construction (CLT). “Currently the tallest mass timber building in Canada is Brock Commons in British Columbia which is 18 storeys. There is a 28-storey building constructed in Norway…the height is 85 metres. Our proposal is a 31-storey building with a height of 90 metres. If this goes ahead, it would be the tallest of its kind in the world for now,” explained Reza Eslami, designer of the timber building.

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