The University of Toronto (U of T) is set to build a 14-storey academic tower made of timber on its downtown Toronto campus. Designed by Patkau Architects of Vancouver in partnership with MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects (MJMA) of Toronto, the tower is expected to be the tallest mass timber and concrete hybrid in North America.
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 could begin at the end of 2019.
The tower was originally slated to be built using steel, but after becoming aware of government incentives and of research by members of the Faculty of Forestry, including the former dean Mohini Sain, the university decided to go with timber.
Recognizing the benefits of building with timber, the Ontario and federal governments are providing funding for buildings that use the material. U of T’s wood tower will be financed in part by those government subsidies, and through university funds and philanthropy.
The project follows a growing international trend towards tall timber structures, which have been lauded for their low carbon footprint, fire safety and faster construction time.
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.
It will be set above the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport and will house a number of academic units, including Rotman Executive Programs, the Munk School of Global Affairs, the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Master in Mathematical Finance program and the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.