Terrace House in Vancouver has received official approval to use exposed mass timber in the top 7-storeys of this 19-storey building. Located in Coal Harbour, the project by architect Shigeru Ban will be the tallest hybrid wood structure, with its highest point sitting at 232 feet above ground level.
The issuance of the building permit required approval of an “Alternative Solution” to demonstrate compliance with Vancouver’s building code, allowing the use of mass timber in the construction of a high-rise building.
“As an engineer, it is imperative not only that I trust my own work, but that my work receives rigorous review and confirmation by others, including peer reviewers and competent authorities having jurisdiction, such as the City of Vancouver,” said Andrew Harmsworth, lead fire engineer and building code consultant from GHL Consultants Ltd.
Prior to the official approval of Terrace House, the use of exposed mass timber in a hybrid wood structure of this height had never been permitted in either Canada or the United States. While there has been much discussion of the environmental benefits of tall mass timber buildings, few exceeding six-storeys have been permitted or constructed.
The approval is a milestone for Terrace House and the City of Vancouver. It was achieved through a process of performance-based fire and structural engineering tests supported by analysis of fire risks including risk of fire after earthquake. Tests demonstrated to the city and the expert peer reviewers that this hybrid mass timber building is as safe, if not safer, than a conventional concrete or steel high-rise.