by Jen St. Denis

Monday, March 25th, 2013 at 10:00am

Original Source: Business in Vancouver

PCL Construction Westcoast and Michael Green Architects have beat out two other bidders to build and design the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, Jobs Minister Pat Bell announced on Friday.

Construction on the six-storey wooden building will start this spring and will be completed in June 2014 at a cost of $25 million. The facility will house University of Northern BC research programs.

“It’s a huge step forward for North America,” Green told Business in Vancouver. “This will be the tallest wood building in North America when it’s finished.”

The building will stand 27.5 metres tall, said Green, who is a proponent of building tall with wood. It is planned to have high ceilings and therefore be close to a standard nine-storey building in height. While current building codes restrict wood buildings to six storeys, Green said this project would get an exemption.

The facility is intended to showcase high-tech wood products which allow buildings to be built 10 storeys high or more. The province has committed $25 million to build the centre.

The project has been troubled of late, with one of the potential developers complaining Bell had reneged on personal promise to shortlist him for the project. Former finance minister Kevin Falcon has also weighed in with criticism that the project’s budget falls far short of what is needed.

But Green said meeting the $25 million budget would not be a problem.

“I think it’s appropriate budget for an academic building of this size,” he said.

The completed building is expected to house academic and research programs for the University of Northern BC.