Toronto Uni Breaks Ground With City’s Tallest All-Timber Build!

Slated for 2026 opening, it will be the largest university mass timber building in North America

Fri 19 Jan 24


The University of Toronto’s new 14-storey mass timber building is now “shovel ready”, which, once completed, will be one of the tallest timber buildings in North America.

Known as the “Academic Wood Tower,” the award-winning build is the work of Toronta-based Patkau Architects and MJMA Architecture & Design, with consulting also provided by Blackwell Structural Engineers and Smith+Andersen.

“The inspiring piece of architecture,” according to University President Meric Gertler, “will stand as a testament to the university’s global leadership in sustainability and our commitment to city-building.” 

Yesterday, Mr Gertier was joined by Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s minister of energy and natural resources, and Julie Dabrusin, parliamentary secretary, with the building, the latest and most high-profile recipient of the Green Construction through Wood program.

“This is a historic development, which symbolises where we are going: a cleaner future where Canadian workers sustainably use Canadian materials to build more affordable and sustainable communities,” Secretary Julie Dabrusin said“The Government of Canada is pleased to help build this tower right here in Toronto.” 

Widely considered one of the world’s most innovative business schools, Rotman is home to a unique ecosystem of labs and research centres that provide cutting-edge thought leadership. The top five floors of the Academic Wood Tower will house Rotman’s specialised executive education programs – footage courtesy of @uoft.

Located on the intersection of Devonshire Place and Bloor Street at the St George campus, the tower will provide high-quality spaces for the Rotman School of Management, the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy in the Faculty of Arts & Science and the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.

“The Academic Wood Tower will provide ample space to inspire our program’s participants as they work to explore and transform themselves, their organisations and their communities,” said Susan Christoffersen, dean of the world-renowned Rotman School of Management. 

“Carefully designed to set a precedent in sustainability, space configuration and educational technologies, the tower will equip researchers and learners with the tools and forward-thinking design to educate the leaders of tomorrow on pressing business topics.”

The choice to use mass timber construction systems was the only choice, according to Sandra Hanington, vice-chair of the university’s governing council, who said the building serves as a “best practice” case study for Toronto-based designers and engineers.

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Originally proposed five years ago, before COVID-19, renders of the 14-storey cross-laminated timber project have been provided by Patkau Architects. (Image Credit: Patkau Architects)

“(U & T’s) Academic Tower proves that we can reduce emissions, responsibly construct new buildings and contribute to the vibrant architectural fabric of a dense city like Toronto,” Ms Hanington said.

Canada is a leader in wood construction technologies and home to one of the largest forest industries in the world. Fittingly, the tower’s timber is homegrown, originating in Western Canada.

Last month, Wood Central reported that the Canadian Government wants to change its National Building Code to allow all-timber buildings up to 18 storeys, or 50% above current restrictions.

It is part of a sweep of programs aimed at reducing embodied carbon and decarbonising construction – and comes as Canada became a signatory of the coalition of countries that will incentivise wooden construction to meet net-zero targets at COP28 in Dubai in November.

Wood Central understands that the first deliveries of mass-timber components arrived on site yesterday, with the building to be constructed in time for the first semester of 2026


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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