Western Red Cedar Award
First Peoples House | University of Victoria | Victoria,BC
Alfred Waugh Architect
This 12,875 sq ft (1196 sqm), multi-purpose educational facility is located on the University of Victoria Campus and is the only major wood structure centrally located at its heart. The university made an exception allowing a wood structure clad in cedar as this material is of symbolic and cultural importance to the First Nations people along the northwest coast. The facility houses the Indigenous Graduate Student Union, Native Student Union, classrooms, faculty and counselling offices, elders and student lounges, study space and a ceremonial space. The Office of Indigenous Affairs and the University of Victoria’s main objective was to develop a building design which honours the identity and pride of the First Nations students on a local as well as national level, instilling the following mission statements.
- To provide a welcoming, supporting environment for First Nations students. Acting as a home away from home, the centre will be a place of culture, honour and spirit.
- To provide an enduring invitation to the world to share and enjoy First Nations culture
The design celebrates First Nations culture through the use of cedar inside and outside the building and is symbolic to the importance of this material to the First Nations of the northwest coast. The architect assisted the university in locating and purchasing First Nations salvaged western red cedar a year before construction to ensure adequate preparation time for the material. Alana Husby of Coast Ecotimber Inc. sourced the ‘Clear A’ edge-grained cedar from the Dididat Nation located along the northwest coast of Vancouver Island for the interior and exterior siding as well as the house posts and carved doors. Lyle Forest Products Ltd. milled the profiled 2×10 exterior and the 1×10 interior planks. Robert Lester, owner of Lyle Forest Products, quoted the cedar sourced for this project as one of the best grades he has seen in 45 years.
The design strategy focuses the experience, whether inside or outside, on the use of cedar as a cladding material inspired from large planks used in the past and the grand post and beam structures used by the coastal First Nations. The building is split into three volumes, with a large sloped roof covering the ceremonial hall and classrooms, and the lower roof enclosing administration block. The use of heavy timber structure for the larger volume represents the Coast Salish longhouse and each enclosed room is defined by this post and beam structure. The heavy timber reveals the structural expression at the main entrance canopy and the entrance lobby. The glulaminated beams from the ceremonial hall and classrooms project beyond their enclosure to define the public corridors. This design strategy uses western red cedar cladding to articulate the program in the building and the descending volume under the main roof corresponds to the decreasing size of rooms from east to west. Wrapping the outside and inside of the classroom wing and ceremonial hall with western red cedar under the main roof and then connecting all three building volumes with a ribbon of glass clearly defines each programmatic element.
The predominant use of western red cedar is in the use of plank board cladding. The exterior rain screen cladding is profiled 235 mm wide x 32 mm deep, board finished on one side and two edges. The interior is clad in a matching 235 mm wide x 19 mm deep board backed by acoustic insulation. On the exterior, the cedar planks are spaced 250 mm on centre, serving as a rain screen and fastened to vertical nailers in a controlled pattern with stainless steel fasteners. Access panels for fire sprinkler drain valves and pond controls are concealed behind carefully designed flush-mounted, cedar-clad panels. A visual screen enclosing the fish cleaning areas is alternately clad with western red cedar fastened inside and outside of the enclosure to allow natural light to penetrate and add interest to the façade.
The university required the architect to design a visual element to provide sun shading for the clerestory and visually screen root-top services highly visible from adjacent buildings. The solution was resolved by using 38 mm x 140 mm western red cedar profiled louvers screw fastened to aluminum frames.
The Ceremonial Hall, the heart of the building, is a sacred space celebrating the use of red cedar as the cultural blood of the Coastal Salish people. The lower wall and bleachers are clad by 19 mm x 235 mm cedar boards and the upper wall is clad in woven 6 mm x 45 mm western red cedar panels spaced at 1500 mm on centre, contained in 64 mm x 38 mm frames.
Art is an integral part of First Nations’ culture and this project incorporates two sets of carved cedar house posts, carved ceremonial doors and eight carved inset panels in the Ceremonial Hall. The upper walls of the Ceremonial Hall are woven cedar panels inspired by the bulrush mat that lined the interior log houses of the past.
Wood materials used:
|Interior wall cladding||19 x 235 (1×10) “A Clear” red cedar – First Nations salvaged S1s+2E KD boards|
|Interior woven cedar wall panels||38×64 clear red cedar frame with 6 x 45 clear woven cedar strips|
|Wood doors and ventilation transoms||Maple veneer, plan sliced, A grade, veneer over MDF/poplar core for doors and 16 mm to 19 mm plywood for ventilation transoms|
|Acoustic wood ceiling||Red cedar veneer-faced 19 x 35 MDF planks|
|Exterior rain screen wall cladding||32 x 235 (2×10 red cedar, profiled “A Clear” First Nations salvaged S1s+2E KD boards|
|Clerestory wood sunshades||38 x 140 profiled “Clear A” cedar louvers screw fastened to aluminum frames|
|Bridge construction||64 x 235 pressure-treated Douglas fir decking on glulaminated structural units|
|Main building structure||Glulaminated units with tight-fit Steri-Strips tight pin fasteners and galvanized steel base connectors|
|Wall framing||38 x 140 (2 x 6) soft wood framing|
|Plywood sheathing||16 mm T&G roof decking; 13 mm shear wall sheathing|
|Exterior canopy roof decking||38 x 149 T&G hem-fir decking|
|Lower roof structure||356 mm deep wood I joists|
|Wood flooring||19 mm clear-edge grain Douglas fir|
|Carved cedar house posts||Clear red cedar – First Nations salvaged wood|
|Inset cedar panels||Clear red cedar – First Nations salvaged wood|
The University of Victoria
University of Victoria
Architectural & Interior Design:
Alfred Waugh Architect
100 Park Royal South, Suite 1104
West Vancouver, BC
Equilibrium Consulting Inc
204-388 West 8th Avenue
Knappett Projects Inc.
501 Kelvin Road