The very first Mass Timber and Net Zero Carbon institutional building in all of Ontario is well underway at Centennial College's Progress Campus in Scarborough. The A-Block expansion project began its construction in November and since then, considerable progress has been made at the site. The expansion includes a 136,000 ft² extension of the existing A-Block Building, using FSC certified black spruce from Northern Quebec, which has been cross-laminated and glue-laminated. The installation includes a total of 1057 individual pieces of timber. 

Timber being flown in, image courtesy of EllisDon

Timber was requested as the primary building material by Centennial College for sustainability purposes. The use of wood, which traps carbon, will play a role in making the building carbon neutral. To fully achieve this goal, the building will also boast photovoltaic panels on its rooftop, which will produce enough energy to offset the annual carbon emissions associated with its building operations. 

Another one of Centennial's goals is to honour the Indigenous land that the new building is built on. The project is seen as a significant first step towards realizing the goals outlined in the Indigenous Framework of the college, and advancing its commitment to truth and reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples of Canada.

Centennial College: Progress Campus A Block by DIALOG ad Smoke Architecture

As a result, the six-storey structure will reflect both Indigenous and Western cultures, having been designed by Toronto-based DIALOG and Smoke Architecture of Hamilton, a firm that focuses on First Nations and Indigenous spaces. These firms are working with EllisDon on the project, in addition to workers from the Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) program. 

Helmets to Hardhats is the leading construction industry gateway for the men and women who have served in Canada's military, providing opportunities in construction and related industries for serving, transitioning, and former military personnel. H2H works with Building Trades Unions and Employers — such as the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario (CDCO) — to ensure registrants receive only the best industry wages and benefits. 

"Being in the trades is very compatible with military veterans, it is a similar work environment," said Wyatt Bilger, one of two H2H team members working on the mass timber project. "I find that the culture is similar, as well as the shared work ethic, and camaraderie. It's a really great opportunity for veterans coming back to the workforce."

Workers on the site, image courtesy of EllisDon

Bilger is working with EllisDon, and Tergos Construction of Quebec. He is the Union representative on the job site, and it is his first time working on a mass timber project. "I absolutely love it; the speed and tempo of the work is fantastic, it goes up really quickly," he said.

And it has moved quickly. After just two months of construction, the project is already on its fourth and fifth levels. You can see the current state of the building in the video below, a live stream of the site.

Vincent Davenport, Director of Building Material Sciences at EllisDon explained to UrbanToronto, "The base, stair cores, and elevator cores are all concrete, but the rest of the structure is all timber, all the way up to the roof."

All of the concrete that will need to go into the new building has already been poured and cured. Now, the focus is on the construction of the mass timber structure which will be completed by the end of January, 2022. Following that, glass, drywall, mechanical, and electrical will all be installed. 

"What we're putting up is the finished product," said Davenport. "We don't have to go in and drywall or paint anything [over the wood] after the timber has gone up. It's kind of neat that the structure is inherently the aesthetic." 

Aesthetic of mass timber, image courtesy of EllisDon

Substantial completion is anticipated by early 2023, and building occupancy is scheduled for middle of 2023, for the start of the 2023 Fall semester. 

Dan Beadle, Project Manager on site, says he believes that this is just the beginning of mass timber in Ontario. "There's a bunch in the hopper right now, and I expect it's going to become a good share of the building market going forward."

For mid-rise buildings, Beadle thinks mass timber will become another standard choice of building material. "It seems to be becoming another popular option, to ask a client, 'do you want to do concrete, steel, or mass timber?' "

Mass timber framing, image courtesy of EllisDon

More information on the development will come soon, but in the meantime, you can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  CFMS Consulting Inc., Doka Canada Ltd./Ltee, EllisDon, MHBC Planning, Precise ParkLink, RJC Engineers