Des Semis Elementary School

First three-story school building with an exposed wood structure in Canada

As part of this project for the Marie-Victorin School Services Centre, structural and civil engineering teams designed the building’s three-story wooden structure, a first in Canada for school buildings. From the design stage, sustainability and preservation of natural resources were at the core of the teams’ considerations. With an original design from Leclerc Architectes, this innovative project pushes the boundaries of wooden construction, in addition to paving the way for similar projects with the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ).

Because the area’s building code limits wooden construction to two floors for elementary schools built with a combustible structure, our teams proposed an adapted conceptual approach and delivered an alternative solution to the RBQ. As part of this effort, our teams used fire modeling to test different layouts in several fire scenarios to lower flame-spread ratings and achieve a 1-hour fire-resistance rating.

The innovative structure promotes natural light while maximizing views of nature. Opting for a wooden structure also allows for the school to differentiate itself with its low greenhouse gas emissions, which are directly linked to the materials used during construction. As opposed to other materials, wood traps and stores carbon for the building’s entire lifespan. The lifecycle analysis also showed that the CO2 generated by the sourcing, transformation and transportation of the materials used for the building structure is 35% – or 428 tons – less than a building with a similar steel structure.



Civil, Structural, Geotechnical, Pavement, Materials Testing, Sustainability, Work Supervision

Quebec Association of Consulting Engineering Companies, Grands Prix du génie-conseil québécois awards, Building Structure Category, 2022
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