The 18-storey Tallwood House at Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of Fast + Epp’s most ground-breaking projects known for its unique use of the cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor system. Although CLT is often used as a one-way decking system, the Tallwood House aimed to make use of the product’s two-way spanning capability for its gravity system. Spanning in both directions helped eliminate the use for beams, allowing for clean, open spaces.

Project Essentials

To support this innovative use of CLT floor panels, Fast + Epp undertook research, alongside a Peer Review Panel to support the design of this, which is not currently outlined in Canadian Codes, Standards, or Design Guides. To support the implementation of the two-way system, the team partnered with FP Innovations to complete physical testing of point-supported CLT panels, testing the punching shear effects on the panel at supports.

The testing was completed in 2015 allowing for safe implementation in the Tallwood House project. This research, along with other studies evaluating the unique challenges associated with this tall timber building, were published in two conference papers for the 2016 Wood Conference for Timber Engineering (WCTE) Conference Proceedings. One of the papers, An 18-Storey Tall Mass Timber Hybrid Student Residence at UBC, was presented at the 2016 World Conference For Timber Engineering in Vienna by Robert Jackson and has been referenced in several other publications related to the TallWood House. An additional article outlining the design and construction challenges was published in The Structural Engineer journal.


Read the Case Study: An 18-Storey Tall Mass Timber Hybrid Student Residence at UBC.

Read the conference paper: Structural Behaviour of Point Supported CLT Floor Systems.

Read The Structure Engineeer article: The TallWood House at Brock Commons Vancouver.