Whistler Gateway Loop
Date Completed 2018
Budget $3 M
Project Size 555 SM / 5,970 SF
Recognition 2020 Canadian Wood Council Wood Design & Building Citation Award; 2019 Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Award of Merit
The triangulated geometry of steel columns supporting this shelter is informed by both the practical: required curb alignments for highway coaches; and the symbolic: local columnar basalt formations visible from the highway approach to Whistler Village. The elevated canopy protects passengers from the elements, maintains safety via an open and visible ground plane, and fulfills the client requirement to not shed snow from the roof perimeter. Its open structure and central location lend themselves to other community purposes such as weekend markets.
To achieve the iconic appearance desired by the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the design team developed an expressive, spruce-pine-timber structure comprised of a triangular arrangement of glulam beams supporting cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. Wood fulfilled several project requirements: utilizing local trades, coordinating with Whistler’s alpine architecture, eliminating bird nesting opportunities, and projecting a warm arrival experience for visitors.
To showcase the natural beauty of the engineered wood, the support systems were pared down, the number of columns minimized, lateral braces eliminated, and steel to timber connections concealed. The wood on steel structure creates a stiff yet visually light roof that can manage the demanding snow loads of the village. Conventional bolted connections would have been unsightly where six, double-glulam beams meet a single, steel column. Instead, the HSK system was chosen for its strength, stability, and concealed epoxy based adhesive connections. Used typically to connect steel elements to wood, HSK consists of a thin, perforated steel plate welded to the steel and glued into a kerf in the beams. Due to the loading and geometry, this use of the system is the most “ambitious” to date according to Timber Composite Technology, developers of the system.
Winter rush hour at Whistler occurs in diffuse and low light conditions, necessitates an integrated lighting solution that does not detract from the structure’s simplicity. Photocel controlled lighting that meets transit illumination requirements, dark sky compliance, and budget limitations is tucked into reveals between beams and decking. The linear luminaires create overlapping snowflakes of light that fall on the structure and ground plane with wood infused warmth.
Significant, below-grade services, an existing flood plain, and a high volume of winter and summer vehicle and bus traffic constrained the construction spatially and temporally. To overcome these obstacles construction could only occur between Labour Day and the first significant snowfall of the year (as early as the end of October in Whistler). The project was broken into distinct below grade and above grade phases. With fewer than two months to erect the above grade structure, the design approach focused on off-site prefabrication of beams and panels. The final design resolves the needs of vehicular and pedestrian access with that of a comfortable guest experience, and an expressive design delivered within tight time constraints.