Vancouver is getting a wooden skyscraper designed by Shigeru Ban

Vancouver residential developer PortLiving nabs the Pritzker-prize winning architect to design the world’s tallest “hybrid” wooden skyscraper

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Terrace House building with wooden structural elements on its upper floors

Artist’s rendering of the proposed Terrace House building. (PortLiving)

The latest entrant in the global race to build the world’s tallest wooden building is a residential tower slated for Vancouver’s Coal Harbour designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Unlike the 18-storey student residence rising at the University of B.C., or the 25-storey office tower planned for Vienna, the proposed Terrace House is not entirely wood-framed; developer PortLiving is calling it a “hybrid timber structure”—wood framed on its upper floors, but using more conventional steel and concrete construction methods lower down.

This may offend purists who tout the low carbon footprint of super-strong treated lumber compared to traditional high-rise building materials. But the hybrid design may itself represent a breakthrough for a market-driven project—moving beyond the us-versus-them dichotomy and simply incorporating wood into skyscraper construction for all the right reasons. PortLiving, which has not yet launched sales of the project, plans a formal unveiling this fall.