NRC’s recently released study comparing steel, exposed wood and concrete buildings that promotes exposed wood construction as being the cheapest option is deeply flawed according to architect Russell Acton, designer of Canada’s tallest wood structure–the Brock Commons Student Residence.

The following factors were not taken into account for the pricing of the exposed mass wood structure:

  • The significant increased volume of wood required to allow for fire protection through charring for both the columns and the floor slab
  • The cost to upgrade to an architectural finish for the exposed wood and the associated finish
  • The increased cost of the structural connections
  • The increased cost of installation of mechanical, electrical, fire protection systems, etc. due to there
    being no economical manner in which to place and route them
  • The increased costs required to protect the exposed wood during fabrication, storage, transport, erection, throughout construction, and the inevitable repairs and/or replacement when the wood is damaged during construction
  • The increased time to erect the structure as it will have to be gently handled; the increased time
    associated with workers having to work around and carefully consider their every move in proximity to the exposed wood structure
  • The increased treatment required to achieve required acoustic performance ratings
  • The increased height, length and width of the building to have the equivalent net area and volume to that of an encapsulated structure, as well as the increased quantities of building systems, finishes, cladding materials, etc. that will be required to be applied to the larger, taller building
  • The increased land costs upon which to fit what will be a longer, wider building
  • The increased maintenance of the exposed wood structure; it will not be insignificant as the wood
    structure will be routinely scratched, nicked, vandalized, etc.