We need to stop building so many hyper-specific buildings and start building generic ones that will last.

Historic tall-wood “mill construction” buildings in Toronto have proven to be a versatile and durable typology, but due to a lapse in construction between 1940 and 2000, trade knowledge of this building practice was lost. While contemporary mass timber construction has significantly advanced, a study of the vernacular typology will illuminate both historic urbanism in Toronto and forgotten learned principles of mill construction.
Field surveys were conducting documenting 42 historical tall-wood buildings in Toronto that Kenneth Koo at FPInnovations identified in his 2013 report A Study on Historical Tall-Wood Buildings in Toronto and Vancouver. Koo’s report set historical precedence for Ontario’s Tall Wood Building Reference in 2017 and the 2020 National Building Code changes around building taller in wood. The documentation gathered during the field surveys supplement Koo’s engineering report by illustrating the physical qualities of identified buildings through high-resolution ortho-corrected photography.

The collected field documentation and in-situ observations have been paired with GIS aerial orthoimagery, perspectival archival imagery, historic insurance maps, and newspaper clippings to create a morphological index of the select typological examples. Koo’s original building list has been audited and augmented to create a textual specification companion to the visual imagery.  The resultant dataset stands as a referenceable cross-section of historic tall-wood buildings in Toronto and provides a platform for further research into the resilient typology.