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Northern buildings lauded for use of wood

Structures in Fort Frances and Sudbury recognized with Ontario Wood Design Awards

Two Northern Ontario buildings are among the recipients of a provincial award recognizing the use of wood in their designs.

Ontario Wood WORKS! announced the winners of the 2021 Ontario Wood Design Awards during the annual general meeting of the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA), held virtually on Feb. 24.

They include the Seven Generations Education Institute in Fort Frances, designed by Nelson Architecture Inc. of Kenora, which won the Institutional Award.

The new Laurentian University Student Centre in Sudbury, designed by Yallowega Bélanger Salach Architecture (in association with Gow Hastings Architects), also of Sudbury, won the Northern Ontario Excellence Award.

“The winning projects reflect the innovation of an evolving wood culture that is gaining momentum in Ontario,” explained Marianne Berube, executive director for the Ontario Wood WORKS! program, in a news release. 

“We’re happy to partner with OFIA this year to recognize the design and construction teams that are pushing the boundaries of innovation for wood construction.”

In Fort Frances, the flagship building of the Seven Generations Education Institute employed glulam columns and beams to create large overhangs and cantilevers that contributed to the efficiency of the envelope, according to Wood Works.

The long, narrow design and arched roofline was inspired by the Ojibwe teaching of Turtle Island and the traditional longhouse, while the use of wood was used to acknowledge the institute’s Ojibwe history and culture.

Putting an emphasis on student well-being, Laurentian University’s student centre used wood as a connection to nature and its associated health benefits.

“The Laurentian University student centre was conceptualized as a contemporary living room providing warmth and shelter through the use of wood. It was designed with an environmentally conscious Northern Ontario sensibility,” architect Amber Salach explained in a winners’ video.

“They wanted their new building to exemplify their connection to the North and to our landscape, so being recognized for theNorthern Ontario Excellence Award truly is an honour and significies the deep positive connection between humans and wood materials, particularly here in the North.”

Other winners include: 

  • Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Logistics Warehouse (Chalk River), HDR Architects
  • Toronto Montessori School, Lower School Campus (Richmond Hill), Farrow Partners Inc.
  • SmartVMC Bus Terminal (Vaughan), Diamond Schmitt Architects
  • One Young (Kitchener), WalterFedy Architects Engineers
An initiative of the Canadian Wood Council, the goal of Ontario Wood WORKS! is to increase the use of wood in construction, and showcase the manufacturing, design and construction talent in both inspiring and practical examples of wood projects in Canada.