Downtown Dartmouth project would take wood to new heights

September 6, 2016

By: The Chronicle Herald

Dartmouth’s Main Street could soon be home to an innovative, environmentally-friendly wood building — all part of the city’s revitalization plan.

On Friday, Atlantic Wood Works announced the development of Garden View, a six storey mixed-use building.

It’s the first building planned for a project called Reinventing Main Street that is looking to provide affordable housing for seniors and families in HRM.

Architect Tom Emodi is responsible for designing two of the five buildings that will make up the 20-year project.

The building is being pegged as sustainable and innovative thanks to its key material.

“The coming age is the age of wood,” he said on Friday.

He says buildings held up by concrete or steel are becoming a thing of the past.

Wood is a renewable resource, which means not as much energy is needed to build with it.

And while wood may sound like a move backwards, Emodi says Nova Scotia is actually behind under provinces and countries when it comes to utilizing the material.

The University of British Columbia, for example, is using a wooden frame to construct an 18 storey residence.

But right now, the only way for buildings of that height to be built in Canada is by receiving an exemption under the National Building Code of Canada.

Under the code, HRM and other Nova Scotia jurisdictions are only permitted to build up to four storeys with a wooden frame.

In order to be exempted, proponents need to prove that their building is going to be just as safe as structures built to code.

All parties are confident that they will receive approval.

Several facilities for the Vancouver Winter Olympics were made almost entirely from wood, including the Richmond Olympic Oval. Domed roofs were held up by massive glued and laminated wooden beams, stronger than steel.

Atlantic Wood Works is providing the technical expertise on the Dartmouth project, showing government and construction companies some of the the environmental and economic benefits of working with wood products.

Project coordinator Patrick Crabbe says working with wood is cheaper as well as greener.

“Wood is generally less expensive when its constructed of dimension lumber,” he said.

The idea for this mixed-use development was put into motion about 10 years ago, when the Main Street Business Improvement District (BID) met with the city to develop this plan.

Emodi describes the area as a compact, commercial district. It would change to a mix-use, age-friendly neighbourhood.

Emodi says many are reaching retirement and selling houses.

The proponents are trying to cater to seniors, while also attracting young families, single professionals and students.

“We are looking to have a very mixed community,” he said.

That includes commercial.

The designs show a bustling main floor, filled with food, retail and health and wellness services.

A Friday news release from Atlantic Wood Works said the area now has 618 residents.

They hope to grow this to 8,250 once the project is complete.

By: The Chronicle Herald

Your comments.

Your #1 source for forestry and forest industry news.

Built by Sofa Communications