The University of Toronto has announced plans to build a 14-storey timber tower above the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport. Construction is set to begin in early 2019 and end in early 2022. Once completed, the tower is expected to be the tallest mass timber and concrete hybrid building in North America.

The project is expected to provide a number of academic facilities for the Rotman Executive Programs, the Munk School of Global Affairs, the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Master in Mathematical Finance program, and the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.

While the university originally planned to build the tower with steel, it changed course after recognizing the benefits of timber, including a low carbon footprint, fire safety, and faster construction time.

In a press release from the university, Gilbert Delgado, U of T’s Chief of University Planning, Design and Construction, said that such thick columns in the building will improve fire safety as they are very difficult to ignite.

“If you try to ignite a log with a match, you’ll find out how difficult it is to ignite,” he said.

Delgado told The Varsity that there will be no impact to student traffic in the area and in the Goldring Centre as the tower will be built on one side. The student centre will remain open during construction.

Funding for the building will come from the university, philanthropy, and subsidies from the provincial and federal governments.  Budgeting details and overall costs for the project have yet to be disclosed, as the tower is in its design phase.

The university is partnering with Patkau Architects, an architecture and design research studio based in Vancouver; MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects, a prominent Toronto design firm; and Blackwell Structural Engineers, a Toronto-based engineering consulting company. The team previously worked on the construction of the Goldring Centre in 2014.