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Natural beauty: Mass timber at Trinity College’s Lawson Centre for Sustainability

30.04.2024 - Project updates

Designed by Mecanoo together with local architects RDHA, Trinity College’s Lawson Centre for Sustainability (LCS) in the University of Toronto will mark an exciting new chapter for the College. As a living example of what can be achieved with a core commitment to sustainability, the LEED Platinum and CaGBC Zero Carbon targeted building will shape the values of all who live, learn, grow, eat, and connect within it.

The Lawson Centre for Sustainability is the most significant building project the College has undertaken in a century. The mixed-use facility builds upon Trinity’s strong sense of community, commitment to sustainability and re-frames the campus organisation around a transformed public realm with a focus on enhancing overall campus wayfinding and accessibility. From project start, Trinity demanded a building that set new standards for the campus. The Lawson Centre for Sustainability is unique in combining so many sustainability features in a single structure—one of which is the use of mass timber. 

Francine Houben, Founding Partner/Creative Director, joined the team in Toronto in March 2024 to celebrate the start of the mass timber construction on site. Since the Mass Timber Raising Celebration the east wing structure is near completion, demonstrating the speed at which the components fabricated to size off-site can be installed. “It was great to be in Toronto to celebrate this milestone with the Trinity community. Already we can start to see how the Lawson Centre for Sustainability fits into the scale of the campus, and how the timber structure will bring a natural warmth to the building. It was important for the design to keep the timber structure exposed as much as possible to showcase it in the building.”

The Lawson Centre for Sustainability will be a hybrid mass timber, steel and concrete structure that incorporates glulam beams and CLT, with concrete in the foundation, elevator cores and stairwells, and anchoring major timber structural elements. Mass timber is becoming more widely used in North America, offering a low-carbon alternative to traditional steel and concrete buildings. In addition to the carbon and construction speed benefits, there are proven health benefits to building with natural wood. A growing body of research proves that biophilic design—one that incorporates natural elements and materials into an indoor space—improves occupants’ mood, concentration, productivity, and reduces stress.

If you would like to discuss a press enquiry reach out to us at pr@mecanoo.nl