Plans for a mass-timber building pivot to steel girders and concrete 

Facing a persistently sluggish market for office buildings, one developer has pivoted his original plan to construct an environmentally leading-edge mass-timber building in Toronto to instead build lab and research space – without the wood.

Until late last year, the Leaside Innovation Centre at 154 Wicksteed Ave., near Eglinton Avenue East, was going to be a six-storey office condominium using “glulam” – glued, laminated timber that uses Ontario-grown wood – instead of steel girders and masses of concrete. Mass-timber buildings have become increasingly popular as a low-carbon alternative to steel and concrete.

The new plan for the Leaside site will see a building that is roughly the same size – 75,000 square feet compared with the original 77,000 plan – but no glulam. Ontario building code rules for wet lab space do not make it possible to use mass timber.