Build Smartr is building the Tallest Prefab Building in Canada – and it’s all from steel

Construction of the tallest prefab building in Canada is underway in Langley. The Langley Lion’s Birch 8-storey affordable housing building. This new building is the result of years of design, consultation and social development which replaces the original 3 storey Birch building that was destroyed by fire in 2017.

Originally constructed in 1975 the Birch building was a typical, low-rise apartment building which utilized a very standardized method of construction: the wood frame. Wood framed buildings have been part of civilization for centuries. Wood is a renewable resource and is fairly easy to work with, but as with all building materials, advantages also come with some disadvantages too. Wood is heavy and requires robust foundations for support. Wood suffers from moisture issues and is prone to attack from some insects and rodents. Over time, wood tends to dry out and will split and twist. One major disadvantage of wood that was brought to the forefront regarding this building is its combustible nature. 

On April 3, 2013, a devastating fire ripped through the original building. This building was built in 1983 and was a 3-story wooden structure. One resident was unfortunately killed in the fire which destroyed or damaged all 40 apartment units in the building.

History has a way of repeating itself and unfortunately in 2017 another fire broke out at the Birch Building. Another tragic fire and another tragic loss of life as one more resident of the complex was killed as a result of the devastating fire. 

After these fires the new design called for the use of steel framing instead of wood. Steel framing is fire rated and non-combustible. This attribute of steel makes its use in framing construction, especially in care facilities, the obvious choice. The features and benefits of using prefab steel framing are plentiful and all will play a part in the success of the new Birch building project. 

BuildSmartr, a Delta-based company that Engineers, Prefabricates and Constructs light gauge steel framing solutions was the successful bidder for the new, Langley Birch building. Harv Sidhu, CEO and Founder of BuildSmartr says that ‘playing a role in the construction of the Birch Building is testament to the incredible versatility and cost efficiences of prefab steel framing. We’re excited to build an 8-storey project, the tallest in Canada’.Steel framing is incredibly strong. In fact, steel provides the highest strength to weight ratio of all building materials. Using CAD/CAM technology, BuildSmartr’s prefabricated framing produces perfectly machine cut panels. The incredible strength of steel coupled with the light-weight nature of steel framing permits lighter, less expensive foundations, yet longer spans unimaginable with wood, are possible. 

BuildSmartr’s Lions Birch project in Langley is Phase 1 of a multi-year, multimillion-dollar redevelopment that will ultimately provide more than 900 affordable housing units for low-income seniors.

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Country: Canada