From lodges to libraries, airports to bridges, even transit stations to park pavilions, some of Western Canada’s most impressive wood construction projects were recognized Tuesday evening at the 2016 Prairie Wood Design Awards.

Wood WORKS! Alberta and the Canadian Wood Council showcased the efforts of industry-leading architects, engineers and project teams at the ninth annual awards gala. The Prairie Wood Design Awards program recognizes projects and organizations that utilize wood in construction project and advance its use through design excellence, advocacy, and innovation. Award recipients were presented with a customized wood trophy that signified their ability to push the boundaries of wood in construction.

“The winning projects from our awards program demonstrate Alberta’s increasing commitment to exploring options for wood in construction,” said Rory Koska, program director of Wood WORKS! Alberta. “The advancements in wood research and technology are breaking down barriers for our industry and increasing the options for the design community.”

Earlier in the day, the Alberta throne speech delivered by Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell charted the province’s course through an economic downturn, touching on plans to “build on strengths in our economy,” specifically the agriculture and forestry industries. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson reinforced that message in his remarks to industry professionals at the award ceremony. “Wood is a building material that aids our sustainability efforts and helps us utilize local resources to create jobs, and it also happens to be a beautiful material,” Iveson said. “Thank you for creating projects that contribute to the beauty, sustainability and vitality of our neighbourhoods.”

Seven awards were handed out in a variety of categories. The Recreational Wood Design Award went to gh.3 for the Borden Park Pavilion in Edmonton. After accepting the award Dianne Gerrard lauded the “City of Edmonton’s tireless support of emerging architects,” which had made the city a “model of innovation throughout Canada.” The Borden Park Pavilion commission was awarded through an international design competition held by the City of Edmonton in 2011.

The office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers received the Commercial Wood Design Award for its work on the Fort McMurray International Airport. When the project commenced in 2007, planners initially faced the option of building the structure using either concrete or steel. However, the decision to go with wood construction changed that initial outlook, and the end result showcases ingenuity while reflecting the surrounding forests.

Edmonton projects recognized

Group2 Architecture Interior Design and Perkins+Will took home the Interior Wood Design Showcase Award for the Meadows Community Recreation Centre & Meadows Branch Library in Edmonton. Upon receiving the award, representatives for the winning project echoed their appreciation for the City of Edmonton, noting that “great architecture isn’t made by great architects, it’s made by great clients. The City of Edmonton is a great client.”

Edmonton projects continued to capture the spotlight, as the Institutional Wood Design Award went to Stantec Architecture Ltd. for the Kingsway/Royal Alex LRT Station. Mayor Iveson delivered the line of the night after the award winners were announced. “Finally some good news for the Metro line,” Iveson said, prompting laughter from the capacity crowd.

The Residential Wood Design Award was taken home by Kreate Architecture and Design for the firm’s work on Silver Sage – The Sun Lodge, a project that opened in December 2015 to provide affordable housing to seniors and elders in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Macdonald and Lawrence Timber Framing won the Wood Advocate Award for the Forest Service Shed – Fort McMurray Historical Society, a project that featured wood construction throughout, from the roofing to the foundation.

The final award of the evening — the Jury’s Choice Award — was given to StructureCraft Builders for the Bow River Pedestrian Bridge, a 113-metre bridge constructed with timber that spans the Bow River in Banff, Alberta. The bridge is designed with cantilevers on either side that support a central span of 34 metres. The finished project — like each of the night’s award winners — stands as an enduring example of the ingenuity of Canadian wood architects, designers and builders.