77m-high timber and steel tower going up in Toronto

The Academic Wood Tower at the University of Toronto received funding from the Canadian government’s Green Construction through Wood programme (Render courtesy of  MJMA Architecture & Design)
Contractor Pomerleau has started building a 14-storey mass timber and steel building at the University of Toronto.

The 77m-high “Academic Wood Tower” near the intersection of Devonshire Place and Bloor Street is set to be Canada’s tallest academic timber structure.

It will provide space for the Rotman School of Management, the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

The top five floors will house Rotman’s executive education programme.

University president Meric Gertler said it would “showcase Canada’s leadership in wood construction technologies”.

Already the winner of a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence, it was designed by Canadian firms Patkau Architects and MJMA Architecture & Design, with consulting from Blackwell Structural Engineers and Smith+Andersen.

Completion is set for 2026.

Tricky job

A veteran of around 20 mass timber projects, Pomerleau said it was a complex project.

It’s going up in a congested urban site on top of an occupied building, the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

Pomerleau called it “an unusual situation”, made trickier by constant student traffic.

That and a clinic in the Goldring Centre means it has to keep noise and disruption to a minimum.

Water makes wood swell and crack, so it’s using sensors to monitor moisture, plus fans, dehumidifiers, and temporary HVAC plants.

The contractor will install 350 tonnes of steel diaphragm bracing to deal with lateral loads.

Eleven welded flange girders up to 2 metres deep will support the building.

Pomerlau said it’s using BIM and virtual technology to detect clashes.

‘Where we’re headed’

The project received funding from the Canadian government’s Green Construction through Wood programme.

“The Academic Wood Tower at U of T is a historic development that symbolizes where we are headed: a cleaner future where Canadian workers sustainably use Canadian materials to build more affordable and sustainable communities,” said Julie Dabrusin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

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