North America's tallest wood building just opened in Prince George, British Columbia. The 96-foot tall building, called the Wood Innovation and Design Center (WIDC) is a showcase for modern wood construction innovations and will serve as the home for the University of Northern British Columbia’s wood engineering program. The WIDC’s architect, Vancouver-based Michael Green, combined simplicity and innovation to create a building that can stand as an easily replicated alternative to steel and concrete.
The project officially opened to the world on October 31, 2014, on budget and on time, showing that wood construction can serve as a functional and reliable option for sustainable building. The WIDC is 51,000 square feet all told, with eight-stories – six floors with a mezzanine plus a penthouse. While the lower floors are occupied by the University of Northern British Columbia, the upper stories will be held by government and wood industry-related organizations.
According to Michael Green Architecture, “The design incorporates a simple, ‘dry’ structure of systems-integrated CLT floor panels, Glulam columns and beams, and mass timber walls. This simplicity translates into repeatability of the system.” The building includes fir, cedar, hemlock, pine, spruce and engineered wood and, incredibly, used no concrete above the ground floor save for a mechanical space in the penthouse.