Project led by Tanya Luthi and Julien Fagnan while employed at a previous firm.
Proscenium Architecture & Interiors
10,000 m² (110,000 ft²)
Structural Engineering Consultant
2015 Canadian Wood Council Design Award
2015 Canadian Green Building Award
2015 Wood Design & Building Merit Award
The new MEC Head Office was designed and built with sustainability at its core. With a mass timber structure, sophisticated lighting and ventilation systems, and a building envelope that maximizes daylight, the design team helped create a beautiful workspace that is 70% more efficient than the typical office building. The exposed mass timber (nail-laminated timber floor and roof panels, exposed on the soffit; glulam columns and beams) creates a warm aesthetic to the workspace.
Located in the False Creek Flats area of Vancouver, this four-storey building includes open offices along the main perimeter, which allow for plentiful natural light. The building also includes an interconnected atrium with a feature stair, enclosed meeting rooms, a large multi-purpose space, a bouldering wall, and a roof garden.
At the time of completion, the MEC head office was one of the largest contemporary mass timber buildings in Canada.
Challenge: Providing an efficient lateral load-resisting system without resorting to solid shear walls, which would be the most common approach in a timber building of this size and type.
Solution: By integrating the mass timber gravity system with a lateral system composed of steel buckling-restrained braced frames (BRBs), the structural team provided a robust and reliable system appropriate for the high seismic loads in Vancouver. The use of bracing in lieu of solid shear walls respected the architectural aspiration for large open spaces and also minimized conflicts at the mechanical cores.
Challenge: Ensuring the most cost-effective structural solution for the timber floors. The original design included CLT floor and roof panels; due to the limited number of Canadian CLT suppliers at the time this project was tendered, the design team and client had concerns about the cost of the timber subcontract.
Solution: The structural tender drawings included an alternate for nail-laminated timber (NLT) panels in lieu of CLT. Because NLT can be fabricated without specialized equipment, it can often be a cost-effective alternative to other mass timber products. The NLT panels could be supplied 30% cheaper than CLT, so the design was revised post-tender to accommodate the change.