A Thunder Bay company earned top honours at the recent 17th annual Wood WORKS! Awards celebration in Toronto, a program of the Canadian Wood Council.

FORM Architecture Engineering in Thunder Bay took home the Northern Ontario Award for its innovative use of a variety of wood products in the city's new Carpenters Union Local 1669 Training Centre.


Matthew Mills describes the trophy his company won at the Wood WORKS! celebration


The carpenters union wanted something that highlighted northwestern Ontario, and showcased the materials they use everyday on the job, said Matthew Mills, a partner with FORM and the lead designer on the project,

"Obviously, Thunder Bay, in the middle of the trees, you have to build out of wood," he said.

Carpenters Training Centre

Exposed beams and simulated stick frame construction are part of the interior design of the Carpenters Union Local 1669 Training Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. (Nick Bava/FORM Architecture Engineering )

The building incorporates pine, cedar and birch as well as natural timbers and glue-laminated structure.

"Wood has life to it, so it's got grain and colour and feel and smell and everything like that to it, so we try to use various material like that," said Mills.

Carpenters Centre exterior

Wood, including red cedar, is used extensively on both the exterior and interior of the Carpenters Union Local 1669 Training Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. (Nick Bava/FORM Architecture Engineering )

"Every piece of wood is different, which is quite interesting compared to other materials. Concrete and steel tend to have that similar look and feel that doesn't vary very much. Wood has that inherent variance in it, which makes it just so beautiful and easy to work with."

This is the sixth Wood WORKS! award that FORM Architecture Engineering has received.

You can hear more from Matthew Mills on the training centre project here. He was interviewed for the CBC afternoon program Up North. 

Carpenters Centre board room

A meeting room in the Carpenters Union Local 1669 Training Centre in Thunder Bay has an intricate wood-panelled ceiling. (Nick Bava/FORM Architecture Engineering )