Thursday 9 April 2015

The Wide Wood Building; The Fort McMurray Airport

Quality of Finish: When Wood is Good - Episode: # 2

There's lots of talk these days about tall wood buildings - but have you ever heard anyone speak about "wide wood" structures? Wide wood is how Beth Denny of OMB (the architects on the project), describes the use of cross laminated timbers and glu-lam in the Fort McMurray Airport.

Back in October of 2014, Fred Provost, Chris Bur and John Boys of Nicola LogWorks who was the mass wood installer on the project, had the opportunity to visit the now completed building and were suitably impressed.

John and Chris and Fred enjoyed seeing the transformation of the airport from work in progress to completed structure

At the time of construction, the Fort McMurray Airport was among the first commercial projects in Western Canada specifying CLT and Glu-lam in lieu of more conventional materials. Originally this building did not incorporate mass wood and the decision to utilize wood was made after the design process had already begun.

The quality of the finish (stain), on the mass wood members is a primary factor, in our opinion, of why "wood is good" in this project. It highlights the wood, showcases the design and in combination with the organic appeal of wood infuses the building with an inviting warmth.

What if...conventional materials had been used in the airport?
 Would this structure make the same impact if concrete and steel had been used?
The Log Builder's Wife generated a rough mock-up of what the building might have looked (and felt) like... (Brrrrrr.)

Having the opportunity to see the Fort McMurray Airport finished and in use was very encouraging as this project was particularly challenging for Nicola LogWorks - and one which John often uses as an example of "lessons learned" rather than "wood is good".

That said, the lessons learned have been shared with others whose intent and interests lie in design/build process and have served Nicola LogWorks well in in helping to anticipate possible obstacles and work-flow problems on subsequent projects. All's well that ends well as they say and the finished airport meets the all of the expectations and hype that surrounded it while under construction. Wood is Good!

Roof Framing Crew - November (photo Andreas Fricke)
Highpoints of this job also included the support and expertise of EQ (Equilbrium Consulting); the engineers on the project as well as the fine team of Nicola LogWorks employees and our colleagues who contributed their talents and expertise as sub-contractors; Fred Provost of Gray Valley Quality Wood Work, Jay McKimm of Blue Water Timber Framing and last but not least: Andreas Fricke of Big Horn Timber Frames who stayed on to help Ledcor by undertaking much of the subsequent work that tied into the mass-wood. Brave man! (The snow picture is to his credit.)

Below are a few images of the panels produced by Structurlam Products Inc. (The pretty finished pictures can be viewed at OMB - see link at top of article.)  

And that concludes "when wood is good" episode #2. Contributed by The Log Builder's Wife.