By: The Working Forest Staff
TORONTO, MASS TIMBER INSTITUTE — The 132,805 sq ft Centennial College A Block Expansion Building has the potential to become the first net-zero carbon, mass timber, higher-education facility in Ontario when it is completed in 2023.
A collaboration between EllisDon, Smoke Architecture, and DIALOG, this campus gateway building embodies the College’s deep commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. The design is inspired by the Mi’kmaq concept of “Two-Eyed Seeing”—viewing the world through both an Indigenous lens and a Western lens.
Mass timber sits at the intersection of these two perspectives. One of the inspirations for the design of A Block is the Midewigan | teaching lodge, an open framework made of fast-growing, renewable saplings. Under the canopy, these pioneer saplings grow tall and straight as they reach for sun; harvesting them has less impact than removing old growth as most never reach maturity. Once harvested, the wood is bent and joined to increase its strength.
Mass timber construction is analogous to this traditional Indigenous technique: fast-growing, small-diameter. renewable wood is laminated to become stronger. And as with the traditional teaching lodge, the open, exposed framework of A Block creates a dynamic learning environment where Indigenous stories are brought to life.