Nearly a year after ground was broken at the Downtown Toronto Waterfront site of George Brown College’s net-zero emissions development, Limberlost Place, the mass timber components of the building’s structure are out in the open, displaying natural elegance as the building climbs to its third storey above ground. 

Looking west at the completed design of the 10-storey timber-framed Limberlost Place, image from submission to City of Toronto

With origins dating back to 2017, the development of Limberlost Place has been an exciting story to follow, from the international competition determining who would win the design contract, to the appealing of the building code that limited timber construction to six storeys. And now, as the lower levels of the 10-storey building designed by Moriyama & Teshima and Acton Ostry Architects begin to come together, that excitement is being renewed.

With a number of notable milestones to track in the last year of construction, we are zooming in on the last couple of months to look in-depth at all that has taken place since the project emerged above ground. Our first look at the building’s ground level floor plate came on September 7th, in an image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Northern Light. The image shows us that the slab was to be poured with concrete, like the previous levels underground, which is common practice in contact with the ground in these mass timber builds. The grade level slab will be the last concrete element of the building, which is rising from here using only steel and timber framing. 

Looking south at the grade level concrete slab, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Northern Light

Looking at the activity on the site in the following weeks, the completion of the grade slab marked a turning point in the efficiency of the construction, allowing the steel and timber frame to be erected quickly without the delays associated with concrete forming like curing time. The first pieces of the frame were captured in the image below by UT Forum contributor achender, showing the steel structure that will act as the building’s core, to be surrounded with columns of mass timber. 

First pieces of steel core and timber columns installed on grade level, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor achender

By the start of October, the steel structure had made big strides. The image below, captured by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Riseth, shows a narrow, east-west spanning steel frame section. More timber columns can be seen near the base of the crane, forming a perimeter that will allow the timber floorplates to be laid from the steel core out to the columns. 

Looking southwest at the steel structure rising up to the thirds story, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Riseth

A month later, we are now seeing the floorplates installed, providing a much clearer picture of how the building’s shape comes together around the frame beneath. In the below image, the floor system is shown clearly, with slabs of timber running from the steel structure out to the columns acting like joists upon which the larger floorplate is laid. 

Mass timber columns and floors are connected as frame comes together, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Riseth

Getting a wider view of the site in an aerial image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor tripwire, we can see how the building frame covers the majority of the surface of the site on all sides of the central steel structure.  At the northwest corner of the site, the frame is up to the second floor, while the northeast side appears to be lagging behind, with no timber columns in place yet to lay floor sections on, but this area will also include a cascading internal atrium where floors are not needed in certain sections. 

Looking southeast at the site from above, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor tripwire

Upon completion, the building will operate entirely on sustainable energy sources, with a net-zero carbon output. With solar panels providing the building’s main power supply, the energy consumption of the building is reduced significantly by the employment of a Deep Lake Water Cooling system, that regulates the temperature of the building similar while using up to 70% less energy. With the target completion date in 2024, Limberlost Place is aiming to be an early example of sustainable building practices that will only grow in popularity and viability.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, 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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UrbanToronto has a research service, UrbanToronto Pro, that provides comprehensive data on construction projects in the Greater Toronto Area—from proposal through to completion. We also offer Instant Reports, downloadable snapshots based on location, and a daily subscription newsletter, New Development Insider, that tracks projects from initial application.

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