The Vancouver School Board (VSB) committed to seismically upgrading and replacing schools and has established an initiative to use mass timber in new construction. Hence, when the time came to replace the original Bayview Elementary School with the new two-storey K-7 building consisting of approximately 35,600 square feet and a 4,600 square foot Neighbourhood Learning Centre, the choice to build with mass timber was clear.

Project Essentials

  • LocationVancouver, BC
  • ClientVancouver School Board
  • ArchitectFrancl Architecture Inc.
  • Size35,600 ft² (3,300 m²)
  • BudgetCAD $13.5 million
  • Sustainable FeaturesCertified LEED Gold

To pay homage to the heritage school building, two wood historical components from the original school have been incorporated into the replacement school building. The replacement school building now features an arched window from 1913 for the interior and a 1929 set of vestibule doors for the main floor corridor.

Working in collaboration with Francl Architecture, Fast + Epp developed an innovative mass timber structure that makes for an efficient floor plan on a compact site—the exterior and structural walls, floors, and roof using CLT complemented by glulam columns and beams. When exposed, wood integrates interior spaces with warmth and character. Classroom volumes are staggered to foster collaborative learning environments, and the corridors are widened to accommodate break-out rooms, seating, hangout space, and a larger learning commons.

The library’s doors open to the corridor, providing additional flexible space and opportunities for informal learning. The CLT system performs double duty as gravity and shear walls, allowing it to withstand the region’s high seismic forces. For the gymnasium and multipurpose room, a composite double-T design incorporating CLT and glulam beams is used to create 16-metre-long spanning panels.

Bayview Elementary School will be among the first school of its kind in Canada. The total carbon benefit from using mass timber as the primary building material is approximately 1,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of removing hundreds of cars from the road for an entire year. When completed, the new two-story school will house a preschool, two kindergarten classrooms, and an additional 13 classrooms for grades one through seven.

Read the Wood Use in British Columbia Schools report to learn about the advances in wood technology, types of wood construction in schools, building codes and more.