Photos courtesy of BNKC Architecture + Urban Design

Working with Wood: Timber Goes High-Tech in New Toronto Office Tower

An eight-story office building in the emerging high-tech Toronto neighborhood of Junction Triangle finds inspiration in the historic timber construction of yesteryear, while taking advantage of the innovative possibilities of today’s advanced wood-hybrid building systems.

Project Details

  • Architect

    BNKC Architecture + Urban Design

  • Board Feet

    Approx. 150,000 ft2 (14,000 m2 )

  • Owner/Developer

    Next Property Group

  • Location

    Toronto, ON

  • Structural Engineer

    Blackwell Structural Engineers

  • Mechanical/Electrical Engineer

    Integral Group

  • Project Manager

    Alliance 7 Construction Inc.

  • Mass Timber Fabricator

    Structure Fusion

  • Life Safety

    Vortex Fire

  • Date Completed

    Under construction

Set to break ground in February 2020, Next Property Group’s commercial-office project in Toronto will be constructed using a hybrid concrete-steel and timber assembly. This approach is designed to maximize floor space and minimize environmental footprint, while offering a tech-savvy workforce a warm, light-filled and flexible workspace. The building’s open concept plan will provide 20,000sf per floor and accommodate upwards of 175 workstations, nearly double that of a traditional office layout. Its efficient design will accommodate over 1,000 office workers, while ample glazing, exposed wood and 12-foot ceilings provide a pleasing occupant experience. Building amenities will include electric vehicle charging, bike storage, showers and changing facilities. The first floor will accommodate nearly 2,500 ft2 of retail space.

Wood Use

A thoroughly modern take on the 100-year-old, tried-and-tested construction technology of nail-laminated timber (NLT), 77 Wade is set to surround a new generation of knowledge workers with the warmth and beauty of wood. This contemporary approach to timber warehouses of the past is comprised of concrete-filled steel beams, glulam columns and prefabricated wood decking overhead. High-impact renderings of this state-of-the-art office envision a mass timber building that is sleek and futuristic.

“Our original vision was to take a 1920’s heavy timber building in the garment district and put it in a time machine. In 2020, what does this building look like?” The team determined that it would need to include a lot of natural light, have high ceilings and use wood whenever possible. “There’s something about wood that is calming, warm, relaxing–an inviting environment for today’s office,” explains Next Property Group president and CEO Cary Solomon.

The lightness, transparency and levity of 77 Wade’s design, according to BNKC Architecture + Urban Design partner Jonathan King, is achieved using a hybrid concrete-steel and timber structural system that plays to the strengths of each building material.

“In this particular project, we’re incorporating a composite timber deck system that brings together the qualities of wood with the qualities of concrete and steel and combines them to get the best attributes out of each material,” says King. By doing so, this hybrid approach achieves spans equal to a traditional concrete and steel design and affords all the amenities expected of a modern office building, while retaining the warmth and charm of exposed wood. As Next Property Group managing partner Jeff Segal sees it, they’re not necessarily re-inventing the wheel, but they are using 21st-century technology to unite these components in an entirely new way.

Environmental Impact

At eight stories and approximately 150,000 ft2, it will be the tallest mass timber office building in Canada targeting LEED Gold certification. The Toronto-based developer has embraced the benefits of mass timber, touting its sustainable advantages in building promotion, including the fact that timber can be locally sourced and offer a smaller carbon footprint than other structural materials. Fabricated by Structure Fusion, 77 Wade’s mass timber components will be prefabricated in a nearby plant and assembled on site, reducing emissions and transportation costs.

In addition to the environmental advantages of mass timber, 77 Wade is an eco-friendly workplace through its location and design, incorporating sustainable and biophilic features throughout, which have the potential to reduce occupant stress levels. These include an abundance of natural light, a natural living green wall and exposed wood. Located near the West Toronto Railpath and multi-use trail, the building is a multimodal transportation hub that is easy to reach by public transit and will accommodate bike storage and end-of-trip changing facilities.