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Wood WORKS! award honours innovative design of Thunder Bay carpentry training centre

FORM Architecture of Thunder Bay won the Northern Ontario Award at the 17th annual Wood WORKS! celebration, presented by the Canadian Wood Council. The company was honoured for its innovation on the new Carpenters Union Local 1669 Training Centre in the city.

'Wood has life to it' says Matthew Mills, lead designer and partner with FORM Architecture Engineering

Matthew Mills, a partner with FORM Architecture Engineering and the lead designer of the Carpenters Union Local 1669 Training Centre in Thunder Bay holds the award the company received at the annual Wood WORKS! celebration, hosted by the Canadian Wood Council. On the shelf behind Mills are some of the other Wood WORKS! awards the firm has received. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

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.



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.

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.

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. 

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 )