With the rapid expansion of its community and retail services, the client decided that a new mixed-use facility near town center was needed to streamline services and improve program accessibility.

The new building was originally designed and tendered in steel and concrete. However, due to a restrictive construction schedule, the use of mass timber came into consideration.

Project Essentials

  • LocationWhistler, BC
  • ClientWhistler Community Services Society
  • ArchitectAKA architecture + design
  • Size11,500 ft² (1,070 m²)
  • BudgetC$5 million

When the time came to design a new purpose-built facility, the Society was faced with an untenable situation: Whistler’s long, cold winters with significant snowfall restrict the construction season, for concrete work in particular, to the six months from May to October. To solve this problem, Fast + Epp designed a 3-storey building that utilizes a robust, utilitarian exposed glued-laminated timber and cross-laminated timber structure, which befits the building’s industrial setting.

The large CLT panels were a perfect fit for the geometry of the building in both an economical and functional sense with minimal interior framing. The panels were spliced together with plywood joints to achieve lateral stability.

This is the first retail building of its type in Canada. The potential of mass timber construction to compete in this market sector is demonstrated with comparable costs and enhanced environmental performance relative to ‘traditional’ steel and concrete construction.

The enhanced environmental performance of mass timber, including lower GHG emissions from resource extraction through fabrication to installation of the building components, together with the carbon already sequestered in the material, fits well with the ecological values of the municipality. Exposing wood inside the building also creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere for employees and visitors.