Topping-off celebration marks an exciting new phase of construction at GBC’s Limberlost Place

A group shot of Limberlost Place stakeholders at the topping-off celebration August 9, 2023

We celebrated a construction milestone at our mass-timber building, Limberlost Place, as the project moves into an exciting new phase. 

George Brown College (GBC) community members, donors, partners and friends attended a topping-off ceremony on August 9 on the main floor of the new building to mark the completion of the structural elements. The celebration then continued next door with a reception at the Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences.  

Stacey LaForme, Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, PCL District Manager Myke Badry, design team leads Carol Phillips of Moriyama Teshima Architects and Russell Acton of Acton Ostry Architects, and a number of our generous donors were among those who attended the celebration. 

Guests entering the main floor of Limberlost Place, August 9, 2023

Topping-off ceremonies are a construction industry tradition that mark the installation or raising of a building's highest structural element. 

On behalf of the college community, GBC President Dr. Gervan Fearon expressed gratitude to everyone who helped make “this dream a reality.” The building reflects how institutions can achieve and realize their commitment to sustainability through partnership and innovation, as well as listening to the aspirations of their stakeholders. For the college, this meant listening to our students and their dreams for a more sustainable future. 

“I want each of you here today to know you have been very much a part of making the structure and innovation possible. It represents a contribution to the college and a legacy to future generations,” he said. “This achievement is your achievement. Each of you can be and should be very proud.” 

Now that the frame is complete, a new phase of work begins inside the net-zero carbon emissions building, which will open for classes in January 2025. Limberlost Place will be the new home to the schools of Architectural Studies and Computer Technology, Mary’s Place Child Care Centre, and a state-of-the-art student fitness facility. It will also house the Brookfield Sustainability Institute (BSI), where GBC will work with government, community and industry partners to solve challenges posed by climate change. 

The building design has earned several honours in Canada and around the world, including the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s 2023 Research and Innovation award. 

Learn more about the project at

Exciting innovation in mass-timber building

We broke ground on Limberlost Place in December 2021. The 10-storey structure, built using Canadian-sourced mass-timber components, was designed by the team of Moriyama Teshima Architects and Acton Ostry Architects. PCL is our construction partner.  

“Limberlost Place sets a new standard for green building and specifically mass-timber construction, and today’s topping-off ceremony marks a significant milestone,” said Limberlost Place Project Director Nerys Rau. “We are immensely proud of the progress made so far on this stunning example of climate-resilient construction that raises the bar when it comes to both design and function.” 

The structure contains extraordinary elements, including a mass-timber pedestrian bridge on the fifth floor, connecting it to the Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences, and the largest wood column of its kind in North America (and possibly the world). And soon, crews will start installing and assembling the elements that promote well-being, the adaptable use of space, and energy efficiency at Limberlost Place. These elements include the passive ventilation system powered by solar chimneys, rooftop photovoltaics, a deep-water cooling system, and flexible design components that maximize access to natural light and fresh air. 

How GBC donors helped make an incredible design idea a reality 

This incredible building has taken shape thanks to the generosity of George Brown College donors, including Canadian businessman and philanthropist Jack Cockwell, whose $10-million gift is helping us raise the bar for sustainable construction. That gift was in addition to an $8-million donation he made to the college in 2015. 

The Jackman Foundation donated $750,000 to support Limberlost Place. In recognition of the gift, the child care space at Limberlost Place that will serve the community will be named Mary's Place in memory of Dr. Eric Jackman's mother. 

"Without your help, Limberlost Place would simply not have been possible,” Chris Campbell, a George Brown College Foundation Board of Directors member and Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, told the group gathered for the event. “And as we all know, for the future of our community, our city and our planet, Limberlost Place and everything it represents is essential. Together we are proving that building new net-zero heavy timber buildings in which we can live, work, and study is not only possible but essential.”