KPMB Architects, Toronto, (CA); Public: Architecture + Communication, Vancouver (CA)

This building is an example of hybrid construction, with thorough integration between the timber frame and concrete elements. Exposed wood (exterior columns and throughout the interior) displays the importance of its structural role, but it is also used for interior elements as an aesthetic accent and functional surface, such as stairways that also serve as seating. The wood finish mimics the colour of a pencil, bringing to mind the mission of the building, which is to house students of design (fashion, graphics and interior design).

The CNC-milled post-and-beam timber frame is wrapped by a glass curtain wall with varying degrees of reflectivity and transparency to allow natural light into the majority of spaces while providing a responsible level of thermal resistance and mitigating glare and solar heat gain. Operable windows bring fresh air in while the central atrium acts as an exhaust plenum. Concrete floors provide radiant heating and cooling. The project is on target to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Located in Richmond, BC, in the delta of the Fraser River, the site conditions include a very high water table, infirm soils and seismic considerations, necessitating a structural approach that is both very light but very stiff. As the architect notes: “In essence, the structure had to perform like a ship.” The industrial 19thcentury warehouse typology is evolved to create an open grid with high ceilings and sustainable materials. It embodies first principles – 100% fresh air, natural light, views, and connection to the outdoors–with a flexible robust plan–heavy timber structural system, all to last 100+ years.

The program is organized into three zones. The Ground Zone is highly public and the main interface with industry, including testing labs and an incubator for BC Technical Fashion. The Mid Zone houses the teaching/studios, as well as Fashion, Interior Design and Graphics programs. The Upper Zone is designated for event/conference space.

As well as providing a new face and main entrance to the campus, the design re-orients the entire precinct to values of accessibility, sustainability, openness and transparency. With wood supporting concrete, this structure displays the capability and versatility of building with mass timber.

Architect: KPMB Architects, Public Architecture + Communication

Stability engineer: Fast+Epp, AME Group

Construction: DGS Construction Company LTD

Timber construction: Seagate Mass Timber, Surrey, BC (Canada)

Client: Kwanten Polytechnic University, BC (Canada)

Location: Richmond, British Columbia (Canada)

Conception: 11/2015-7/2016

Realisation: 7/2018

Built area (footprint): 5575 m2

Photo credits © Andrew Latreille

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