Lakehead University team patents product design for timber skyscrapers


Solid wood for high rise construction is a new trend in building design.

THUNDER BAY — A new product developed by a team at Lakehead University could be used in the construction of high-rise mass timber buildings.

Solid wood uses advanced technology to glue, nail or dowel wood products in layers to create large structural panels, posts and beams.

It is designed for high strength ratings such as concrete and steel, but weighs significantly less.

Sam Salem, professor of civil engineering at Lakehead and chair of the department, worked with graduate student Cory Hubbard to develop and test a state-of-the-art timber beam-to-column connection.

It is designed to achieve one hour of fire resistance without any additional protection.

Their idea has received a patent certificate from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and is patent pending in the United States.

Salem calls the increasing use of mass timber in tall buildings an exciting trend in building design.

“With advanced research into the structural fire performance of innovative building systems, high-rise buildings made of mass timber can reach heights comparable to those made of other materials,” Salem said.

He and Hubbard described their product in a research paper published in Elsevier, a leading journal in the field of fire safety engineering.

The new connection configuration uses two steel rods fully concealed and mechanically fixed in glulam – glulam beams.

It has been successfully evaluated in experiments at the Lakehead Fire Testing and Research Laboratory.

“Fire is a serious hazard to all buildings, regardless of the construction material used,” Salem said. “Advantageously, and unlike light frame wood construction, solid wood like the glulam sections used in this research chars externally when exposed to fire while retaining its strength and slowing the combustion.”

Hubbard said he followed the “keep it simple” pattern in designing the connection.

“It’s solid and simple to create, has repeatable results, and looks good too.”

Hubbard added “It will appeal to both architect and engineer for its concealed design and fire performance without the addition of extra ugly fire protection.”

Salem’s research was funded primarily by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Andrew Dean, vice president of research and innovation at LU, said the world-class fire testing laboratory enables world-class research into innovative mass timber construction systems and fire resistance. improved.

In December 2021, George Brown College in Toronto opened what will be Ontario’s tallest wooden building, a 10-story home for the college’s computer science and architecture programs.

Earlier this week, city officials in Toronto announced a 100-unit affordable rental housing pilot project that will use hardwood and other low-carbon materials to construct buildings.

Many other mass timber projects are planned across the country.


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