The Shigeru Ban-designed Terrace House in Vancouver, set to become the tallest hybrid timber tower in North America once it’s finished, has received its official Building Permit and can begin construction.

Vancouver-based PortLiving is developing the 19-story, 232-foot condo high-rise, which will contain only 20 luxury units and features a mixture of glass, concrete, and wood for the building’s terraced 12-story podium. The triangular seven-story extension at the building’s top will drop the concrete façade and expose the underlying structural timber, which is partially the reason for the delay in permitting.

The approval of an “Alternative Solution” permit by Vancouver’s Chief Building Official’s Office means that the exposed timber complies with the city’s structural, fire and seismic-related regulations, and has been proven as safe as a conventionally-constructed tower of the same height.

The front entrance of Ban’s Terrace House references the Evergreen Building at its back. (Courtesy PortLiving)

While no timber buildings of this height have been approved for construction before in either the U.S. or Canada, Canadian Architect notes that the 18-story Brock Commons, a mass timber student residence at the University of British Columbia, was allowed to rise after it covered all of its exposed timber with fire-rated gypsum.

Earlier this month, Shigeru Ban Architects Americas released a first look at renderings of Terrace House’s interiors. The homes inside of the gable-shaped topper will receive full-floor views of the surrounding city and mountains, and will keep the wood floor slabs fully exposed. Ban will also be designing all of the fixtures, handles, pulls and millwork for each of the 20 units.

Terrace House is located in Vancouver’s waterfront Coal Harbor, and Ban has stated that he specifically sought to reference the neighboring Evergreen Building, a landmarked tower designed by the late architect Arthur Erickson, through the use of layered terraces, triangular forms and natural materials. Viewed from the street, the cascading balconies of the Evergreen Building, seem to become a natural extension of Ban’s Terrace House.

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