Terrace House, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, with its highest point sitting at 232 feet above ground level, has received official approval to use exposed mass timber in the top seven stories of the 19-story building, according to the project’s developer, PortLiving.
The issuance of the building permit required approval of an “Alternative Solution” to demonstrate compliance with Vancouver’s building code, thereby allowing the use of mass timber in the construction of a high-rise building. This approval from the Chief Building Official’s Office makes Terrace House the tallest hybrid wood structure approved for construction in North America.
Prior to the official approval of Terrace House, the use of exposed mass timber in a hybrid wood structure of this height had never been permitted in either Canada or the U.S. While there has been much discussion of the environmental benefits of tall mass timber buildings, few exceeding six stories have been permitted or constructed.
The recently completed Brock Commons, an 18-story student residence at the University of British Columbia, was permitted only as an exception to the B.C. building code, and the acceptance was based in part on covering all the timber with fire-rated gypsum wallboard.
The approval is a milestone for Terrace House and the city of Vancouver. It was achieved through a process of performance-based fire and structural engineering tests supported by analysis of fire risks, including risk of fire after earthquake. Tests demonstrated to the city and the expert peer reviewers that this hybrid mass timber building is as safe as a conventional concrete or steel high-rise.
According to the Vancouver Sun, the new building has been designed as a tribute to its neighbor, Arthur Erickson’s Evergreen building. Triangular shapes, natural materials, and terraces are used to connect the two designs. Additionally, Cornelia Oberlander, the landscape architect who worked on the Evergreen building, was contracted to work on the Terrace House project.
Shigeru Ban’s design maximizes natural light and creates cohesive indoor/outdoor environments. The project holds one of the most intricate glass systems in the world, where large enclosed terraces equipped with electronic motorized glass-sliding panels retract to create an outdoor terrace. The timber construction of Terrace House will be visible from the exterior through low-e glass.
The interior design, also conceptualized by Ban, will create a sense of serenity and sophistication through the integration of natural materials, including oak and marble, coupled with state-of-the-art lighting and smart-home technology. Terrace House holds only 20 homes, many of which will occupy an entire level within the building. Prices start at $3 million.