The race is on for the tallest of the tall timber buildings in Canada. In Toronto, one contender is 77 Wade Avenue, designed by Bogdan Newman Caranci (BNC) Architects and Urban Design. If completed today, it would be the tallest modern mass timber commercial building in Canada, at 8 storeys and approximately 150,000 square feet. Developed and managed by Next Property Group, this purpose-designed office and collaboration environment targets the high tech sector, and will be a prototype for mid-rise office buildings.
The key design intent of the project was to fuse contrasting materials to enhance the inherent warmth of an exposed wood structure. Overall, the structure is a composite of mass timber, concrete and steel structural assemblies. Unlike the construction of 20th century post-and-beam buildings, construction of 77 Wade optimizes the use of a mass timber hybrid structural system by way of pre-fabricated components and just-in-time delivery and construction practices. By doing so, it achieves spans akin to traditional concrete and steel superstructure projects for modern commercial office buildings.
The building’s envelope will predominately be clad in a folded-plane curtain wall to expose the innovative structure within, while also adding a dynamic form for the streetscape.
The approach to the building is unified with an origami-based geometric soffit and organic front entrance, retail and flexible collaboration spaces. Perched above the form is a wood canopy that creates shading for the outdoor amenity and social space. The rear of the building has a sunken parking area as well as bike storage, connecting pedestrians and cyclists though the site, from the adjacent elevated GO Barrie line corridor to be constructed alongside a linear park (a Metrolinx project known as the “Davenport Diamond”).
The angled fold of the curtain wall along the Wade Avenue façade engages with the movement of the sun, with one side appearing transparent and the other appearing opaque depending on the angle of reflection. It also clearly demarcates the entryway, with the fold line extending into the Lobby space.
To reflect the elongated rectangular form of the site, the massing spans 80 metres along Wade Avenue and only 24 metres deep into the site. Instead of a condensed core typical of most office floorplates, the services are extended along a linear strip with a central throughway to connect the west and east sides of the core, intended to maximize natural light penetration for the occupants.
Today, tech-oriented and innovative companies desire work environments that hum with architectural character. 77 Wade achieves this with the use of wood construction and the fusion of contrasting materials. The provision of communal spaces for both the building’s users and the public, paralleled with the use of appropriate landscape design and softer and transparent cladding materials, makes 77 Wade Avenue a state-of-the-art contemporary office building that addresses the City and its urban citizens with a unique and innovative architectural language.