Excitement builds as construction on George Brown College’s Limberlost Place makes steady progress

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In August 2021, construction started on Limberlost Place, George Brown College’s mass timber net-zero carbon emissions building, the newest addition to the college’s Waterfront Campus. Progress has been steady, as Limberlost Place now sits above grade with five of the ten storeys in place. As the building begins to take form, the anticipation and curiosity around Limberlost Place are ramping up. Globe & Mail columnist Dave LeBlanc recently toured the bustling construction site and captured some of the excitement.

As GBC’s Project Director for Limberlost Place, Nerys Rau oversees every aspect of the project with the ultimate goal of bringing the building in on time and on budget. “The pace and progress of construction is really swift as the installation of the mass timber pieces moves very quickly,” says Rau. “It was incredible to witness the placement of the three-story timber columns; one of the columns is currently the largest in North America. It’s fascinating to see how these massive elements are installed with such incredible precision.”

As with any complex and innovative project, there have been challenges along the way — from navigating the logistics of operating in a tight urban site to dealing with global pandemic supply chain issues. One significant challenge inherent to mass timber is keeping the timber supply dry before and during construction, which has not been an easy feat during a wet, snowy winter in Toronto.

“Our project partner, PCL Construction, has done an outstanding job maintaining a controlled environment for the cross-laminated timber pieces waiting to be shipped to the Limberlost Place site and creating a precise installation sequence for each piece,” says Rau.

There are some exciting construction milestones on the horizon, including the installation this spring of a two-story pedestrian bridge that will connect Limberlost Place to the Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences at the fifth floor. Throughout the summer months, work will continue developing the structure, with the prefabricated building envelope to follow.

“Limberlost Place is unique in so many ways. Beyond the mass timber, the sustainability innovations are pushing new and exciting boundaries,” says Rau. “Walking through the site, the warmth and the tactile quality of the wood is really extraordinary. Every day I look forward to seeing the progress, and I’m excited for what’s ahead.”