expertise > Architecture > Mass Timber Architecture
The Commons at ATCO Commercial Centre in Calgary.
The ATCO Campus in Calgary.
T3 Rino in Denver, Colorado
The Commons at ATCO Commercial Centre in Calgary
The Uber Sky Loft in Melbourne, Australia
The enclosed conference and amenity pods dispersed throughout the Commons evoke the modular mobile offices designed and built by ATCO themselves.

Mass Timber Architecture

Pickard Chilton has designed 3.5 million gross square feet of mass timber architecture across North America since 2013 – the equivalent in carbon reduction of eliminating 6,985 cars from the road or the annual amount of energy necessary to power 3,108 homes. We are vocal proponents of carbon-informed mass timber design and actively support the global initiative to increase its accessibility and availability to a greater span of geographic regions and markets.

Since completing our first timber project in 2018, the ATCO Commercial Centre in Calgary, we have built upon and continually expanded our team’s knowledge of this rapidly evolving and much-anticipated industry. The fundamental attraction of mass timber is its innate connection to the human experience, its contribution to providing healthy, sustainable environments, and the simplicity of the construction process as compared with conventional carbon-laden building methods.

3,500,000
Square Feet of Mass Timber in Design or Construction
2018
Completion of ATCO Commercial Centre
10
Cities with mass timber projects designed globally

The use and application of natural wood in mass timber buildings create healthier and inspirational environments. They embody the central principles of biophilic design, the human attraction to be close with other forms of natural life. Designing an interior environment rich with natural wood has a positive effect on the autonomic nervous system, making occupants subconsciously more comfortable and relaxed.

Unfinished wood can be incorporated throughout the interior and exterior design, celebrating the beauty and strength of the natural material. Large structural elements in warm wood tones evoke a comforting familiarity of a tree canopy. Due to their inherent density and composite attributes, wood products and mass timber contribute to sound control and acoustic dampening within a building. Mass timber building products are hypoallergenic, enhancing a building’s air quality, and the improved humidity control of the material improves the thermal comfort over baseline construction. 

Humankind has used wood to build shelter for millennia. The simplicity and efficiency of mass timber’s construction process differentiate it from conventional carbon-laden building methods. Large-scale structural elements are prefabricated and delivered to the site ready to assemble, significantly reducing construction time and waste. Prefabricated elements are assembled with less intensive construction sequences than their concrete or steel counterparts. This efficient staging process allows for less disruption and construction noise, thereby demonstrating sensitivity and consideration of neighboring sites and the greater community.

Mass timber’s unique characteristics also share significant life-safety benefits. Due to the natural density of mass timber, it does not burn like conventional wood, but rather slowly chars. Mass timber products therefore qualify for a fire rating even when left exposed without additional fire-protective materials. Careful consideration of the use of mass timber and the planning of its construction sequences creates abundant opportunities for greater efficiency of personnel, time, and materials.

Related Work

With over 3.5 million square feet of mass timber projects in our portfolio, Pickard Chilton has invested significant time and effort to best understand the unique opportunities mass timber presents while stretching the boundaries of its structural, massing and enclosure design. While each design addresses the challenges specific to the individual project, in return, it allows for the exploration of the near-limitless possibilities of mass timber. Highlighted below are four recent designs where common mass timber design was innovatively challenged to craft experiences tailored to the needs of each client and community. 

Located in the Centennial neighborhood of Redwood City, 1125 Arguello is a four-story creative office development.

Design proposal for a six-story mass timber office building in Denver, Colorado with a variety of amenity spaces and an exclusive deck.

T3 RiNo is a six-story mass timber office building featuring numerous open terraces, a variety of amenity spaces and three levels of below-grade parking.

Exterior design proposal for the Skyloft program by Uber constructed with mass timber and three landing pads.

Pickard Chilton and Arup were engaged to design a concept for a Skyport Mobility Hub for 2023, the Uber Sky Loft, in Melbourne, Australia, at the Uber Elevate Summit 2019

Phase one of the ATCO Campus is a dynamic composition of two four-story office buildings around a leaf-shaped quad and a partially subgrade parkade, and is interconnected by a multi-purpose Commons.

ATCO Commercial Center is a dynamic composition of two four-story office buildings, creating a communal space within the workspace to offer visual connections to adjacent floors.

We are passionate about our clients, our work, and the positive impact of every building we design. If you have a difficult design challenge, contact us to create a solution that realizes your vision.