Quesnel’s northern economy is forestry based, with a number of local mills being the major employers in the region. From the outset, the client mandated this new post-secondary facility would showcase the local forestry industry in innovative ways.

Project Essentials

  • LocationQuesnel, BC
  • ClientUniversity of Northern BC
  • ArchitectMcFarland Marceau Architects
  • Size49,400 ft² (4,589 m²)
  • BudgetC$12 million
  • Sustainable FeaturesCertified LEED Gold

Most of the building is constructed using conventional timber and concrete structural systems; however, the architect asked for a striking roof structure to create a focus for the central atrium space which is situated between a pair of two storey classroom wings.

In response, Fast + Epp worked within the constraints of local milling capacity and fabrication expertise to develop a novel ‘toothed’ timber truss, column and steel spine design. A series of spaced 4×12″ roof chords were “toothed” into spaced 4×10″ diagonal struts at mid-span and spaced 4×12″ column supports at the sides of the atrium. The mid-span struts were toothed into and supported by a 48m-long arcing steel tube spine, which dropped in elevation as the atrium widened and spans increased. The spine tube was supported by steel cables at alternating column and truss lines.

Programming included a variety of classroom and laboratory spaces, a library, cafeteria, multipurpose area, and administrative spaces.