George Brown College Breaks Ground on Tall Mass-Timber Building

January 10, 2022

By: The Working Forest Staff

George Brown College has announced what is its largest-ever donation and the largest donation to an Ontario College by a single donor — at the ground-breaking for a new tall-wood, mass-timber, net-zero carbon emissions, 10-storey student facility at its Waterfront Campus.

CAPTION: George Brown College: Limberlost Place, designed by Moriyama & Teshima, Acton Ostry Architects

Today’s $10-million donation is from Canadian philanthropist Jack Cockwell, a director and former President and CEO of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. It builds upon his previous $8-million donation, making it the largest donation to an Ontario college by a single donor. Cockwell’s donation will go on to fund Limberlost Place, a new learning facility constructed with mass timber components that have been sourced in Canada. 

“This signature building not only represents an important addition to George Brown’s waterfront campus but also signifies its strong commitment to sustainable development with its innovative design and extensive use of natural building materials,” said Cockwell. “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to play a small part in the building of Limberlost Place, and hope that future generations will benefit from the enhanced education, knowledge and innovation it will serve to facilitate.”

Designed by Moriyama & Teshima, and Acton Ostry Architects, the building was inspired by Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve in Huntsville. Once built, the new building will become home to the college’s School of Computer Technology, School of Architectural Studies, and a new childcare facility. It will also be the new home of the Brookfield Sustainability Institute – a hub for innovative research and programming connected to industry.

Limberlost Place has goals to help prepare the workforce for climate change. It also plans to dedicate space to Truth and Reconciliation, and to celebrating and recognizing Indigenous culture. The unique wood-based structure features the strength of a traditional steel and concrete building with a fraction of the carbon footprint, harnessing the power of the sun, and Lake Ontario. Deep-water cooling solar chimney systems, and rooftop photovoltaics, will mean that no fossil fuels will be used to heat or cool the Limberlost Place.

“We are grateful to Mr. Cockwell for his incredibly generous donation that will allow us to build this impressive new centre for learning and deepen George Brown College’s commitment as a community-builder,” said Dr. Gervan Fearon, President of George Brown College. “Limberlost Place highlights the future leadership role George Brown will play in the city’s Waterfront development as a sustainable city. This stylish addition to the city skyline will add to the vitality and modernization of Toronto’s beautiful waterfront, and will help George Brown students to work, study, learn, and grow.” 

Mayor John Tory was also present at the event, commenting that, “The new Limberlost Place will not only add to our growing waterfront, and to George Brown’s already established reputation, but will help us move further in our climate action goals with its net-zero carbon emissions. This expansion and new building will bring in new jobs, new students and much more, and I look forward to seeing it along our waterfront.”

The landmark structure has been designed to adjust to changing academic uses and is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2024. 


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