When most students left for the summer break, all there was to see of Brock Commons were two elevator shafts rising up next to Gage – ugly and unremarkable. When they returned, in its place was a massive wooden skeleton stacked around the concrete spines and — piece by piece — being enclosed in segments of window and wall.
Even for students jaded by a campus forever cluttered by construction sites, the rise of the Tall Wood Building or — more formally — Brock Commons Phase One, has been impressive to watch, if only for the speed at which it was built. Between the project’s inception and the completion of its exterior was only a four-year period, with no more than an additional year expected for the completion of the interior.
For the average student, this just looks like a decent place which they can look forward to living in once they move up from 1,500 on the waitlist. But there is a lot more to Tall Wood than just its 404 beds and a damn fine view.
For its technical qualities, Brock Commons is being presented to the public as a prestige piece and bragging rights for all involved. It is innovative in how it uses materials, creates minimal waste and for the speed and accuracy in which it was built. Professors from applied science and forestry people will have a fun research project in the coming years and on top of all that, it boasts some promising figures for sustainability.
At a press conference to show off UBC's newest pet project, university administrators, ministers of parliament, wood industry executives and construction companies lauded the building for being the tallest wood building in the world (which, technically, it isn't) and waxed poetic about the future of wood in BC and the world.
“We are here to celebrate the completion of the wood structure of Brock Commons,” said UBC President Santa Ono at the press conference. “The purpose of this project is to learn as much as possible from Brock Commons, and share that knowledge with professionals, faculty, students and government officials from around the world. This is much more than a residence hall.”
Go behind the scenes with The Ubyssey as we explore the science behind the building, dig into how it was designed and built, ask how green wood actually is, what it means for students and so much more.