History And Use In Other Jurisdictions

History and Use of Mid-Rise in other Jurisdictions

Did you know that Wood Midrise Buildings have been used extensively in Europe as early as 1995?

England: TF 2000 project, UK

“In 2000 a comprehensive research project into the structural ability, robustness and fire safety of multi-storey timber frame construction was conducted by BRE, UK. Codenamed TF2000, the project led to the production of authoritative best practice guidance on medium rise timber frame construction”. The TF2000 test building, constructed in a former airship hanger at BRE Cardington, not only provided information for a typical six-storey residential block with four two-bedroom flats per floor around a service core, but became a best practice benchmarking guide, providing hard commercial data from which to make comparisons between competing technologies and systems. Multi-storey timber frame buildings are now established as an ideal and cost-effective off-site construction solution to apartments and flatted developments.

TF 2000 Project
TF 2000 Project, courtesy of BRE, UK

The BRE Research Project enabled changes to the English Building Code to be updated to allow for seven storeys in wood construction. This project used standard North American platform framing techniques. Further information about this research project can be found at http://projects.bre.co.uk/tf2000/index.html

Other areas in Europe using other wood technologies have managed to build seven storey buildings.


In November of 2007 a research project was conducted by members for FP Innovations to report on the new building technologies being currently used in Europe (since 1995) giving them the capability to build eight storey high wood frame buildings using Cross Laminated Timber technologies. Courtesy of FP Innovations their collective findings for Sweden, Norway and France are summarized in the following attachment:
pdf-small Trip Report Sweden-Norway-France 2007.pdf

Also in 2007, this new Cross Laminated Technology (CLT’s) was tested on an Italian Seven Storey Building.
pdf-small 2007_10_23_sofie-pressrelease.pdf

The video of this dynamic earthquake shake table test can be viewed here: Kobe Shake Table Test – Seven Storey CLTS

More recently this technology was also used in the UK where in the summer of 2008, the world tallest wood frame residential building: Nine storeys in height were completed twenty two weeks ahead of schedule.

waugh waugh
Courtesy of Andrew Waugh, Architect, UK


Closer to home and just south of the border, Midrise construction has been widely accepted and has been used for over six years. Using traditional North American platform framing techniques, both Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington amended their buildings codes over five years ago to allow for more wood frame stories.

Marselle Condominium Project, Seattle, Washington Marselle Condominium Project, Seattle, Washington aerial view
Marselle Condominium Project, Seattle, Washington, front elevation and aerial views under construction, Aug 2008

The Marselle Condominium project is located in the heart of Seattle, Washington and is the first of its kind in that it boasts five storeys of wood frame construction, with an additional wood frame mezzanine level over two floors of above ground concrete construction. This hybrid construction eight (8) storey building stands 85’ tall above ground and incorporated traditional North American platform framing techniques utilizing engineered wood products such as I-Joists, Parallam and LVL beams.

Marselle Condominium Project, Seattle, Washington framing 

Across the I-5 highway and in close proximity to the Marselle project (South of Northgate Mall) two more but equally interesting midrise projects were under construction. These two independent projects also showcase wood-hybrid construction exceeding six storeys above ground.

Seattle Area Midrise buildings under construction (Aug 2008) Seattle Area Midrise buildings under construction (Aug 2008)
Two more Seattle Area Midrise buildings under construction (Aug 2008)

As part of a sustainable initiative, the City of Portland outright expanded their Building By law to allow 5 storeys to a maximum height of 65 feet and the Jeffery Building as shown below is another sample of six storey above ground construction using five stories of wood on top of one story concrete.

Jeffery Building, Portland, Oregon construction Jeffery Building, Portland, Oregon finishedPictures courtesy of WWPA, during construction and finished Jeffery Building, Portland, Oregon

Although the implemented code changes for several WA/OR cities only allow for an increase use of wood floors from the allowable four stories to five stories, designers and developers have found that by incorporating additional wood mezzanine floors and/or concrete floor they can now have buildings from 5-8 levels above ground. Numerous reports on these US Midrise projects have been published and are located in our Construction Issue and Possible Solutions section of this website.

British Columbia:

As of January 2009, there are several midrise wood frame construction buildings currently on the drawing boards awaiting the April 6th, 2009 code change, but the first BC Midrise building (six levels) has already been built: The Elli Street building located in Kelowna. The designers on this project utilized all available, permitted allowances/loopholes under the BCBC and incorporated 4 storeys + Mezzanine Wood Construction on top of an above ground concrete podium to create a 6 level above ground building.

Ellis Street Kelowna, BC sketches
Courtesy of Shelly Craig, Urban Arts Architecture

Ellis Building, Kelowna during construction
Ellis Building, Kelowna during construction – BC’s first six storey wood framed building


There are currently two projects on the drawing boards for the province of Quebec: a six storey and an eight story commercial wood frame building. We look forward to posting updates on these and other upcoming Midrise projects across Canada as we receive them.

For further information or to direct questions please contact Sukh Johal.