“Each project we do has a unique story. We hope each captures the spirit of its client and community and enhances the wonder of living. A beautiful building falls short if it doesn’t also speak to us with meaning; if it doesn’t connect with a story; and if it doesn’t contribute to a positive experience.” – Michael Green Architecture.

We live in a world where there is diversity in everything. Our skylines have buildings varying from grand and elaborate to modest and understated. In such a world, we need architects who can design unique buildings complementary to the site and the surroundings. One such architecture studio that has this ideology as its cornerstone is Michael Green Architecture. It was founded by award-winning architect Michael Green, with an aspiration to create a significant and sustainable change in a building through innovation and experimentation in construction sciences and design.

 “We believe that good buildings are good neighbours. That may mean they are modest and quiet, or it may mean they need to take a bold stance.” – Michael Green Architecture.

Architect Michael, known for his research, and advocacy in promoting the use of wood, new technology, and innovation in the built environment, has been ambitiously following his ideologies to extend the boundaries of mass timber construction. Michael Green Architecture has constructed some of the largest modern timber structures in the world.

Michael Green Architecture, Canada- 16 Iconic Projects
Architect Michael Green – Man on a mission to use timber on a mass scale. ©vancouversun.com

Here is a list of 15 projects by the firm, which are standing examples of their legacy:  

1. The Wood and Innovation Centre

Exquisitely known as the flag bearers of mass timber construction, Michael Green Architecture was batting on the home ground of sorts for The Wood Innovation and Design Centre. The 97 feet tall, numerous award-winning building was the world’s tallest modern all-timber office building back in 2014. It serves as a gathering place for researchers, academics, design professionals, and others interested in generating ideas for the innovative use of wood. 

Built with an intent to showcase the argument of mass timber buildings, the architects made zero use of concrete above the ground floor slab. The simple, unique material palette included integrated CLT floor panels, Glulam columns and beams, and mass timber walls. The building has an intelligent dry structure of a system that can be replicated with ease, driving home the firm’s intent to encourage a platoon of architects to adopt the idea of using mass timber design in place of steel and concrete construction.

Considered as a sustainable building showing the full potential of timber in all capacities, the timber screens for this building were designed according to the position of the sun through the day, across all seasons. 

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Exterior view of The Wood and Innovation Design Centre. ©architecture.ca
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Innovative and intelligent design of timber screens on the façade that was based on the sun movement © architecture.ca
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Fixing detail of Timber in the building. © mg-architecture.ca
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Interior view reflecting the extensive use of timber in the building. ©rchitecture.ca

2. T3 Minneapolis

The T3 Minneapolis building reflects Michael Green Architecture’s fundamental thought that a building must respond to its surroundings and have its distinctive character. The design objective for T3 was to develop the existing, rich historical image of the warehouse district with a fresh contemporary perspective. 

The simple massing with clean lines and industrial proportions for the form and external articulation of the building responds to the context by blending in rather than standing out. The warm, rustic aesthetic of the material palette consisted of wood, brick, stone, and steel used to create a building that had an old-world charm but with the added benefits of state of the art amenities, environmental performance, and technical capability. 

Famed as the first modern timber building to be built in the United States in more than 100 years, it has exposed mass timber columns and floor slabs commemorating the heavy timber construction of the building’s predecessors. 

Technologically stepping up from the old wooden construction technique, this building uses engineered wood components like glulam and nail laminated timber. This resulted in a sustainable building with a reduced lifecycle carbon footprint that has a healthy indoor environment. The project has proven to be a carbon sink for its lifetime as the wood products can be recycled and reused. 

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Front view of the T3 © architecture.ca
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A view showing the seamless way in which the building sits into the neighbourhood. © architecture.ca
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Construction detail of the timber members in the T3 building. ©architecture.ca
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View showing the building responding to its surrounding contextually. ©architecture.ca

3. LYNNsteven Boutique

LYNNsteven, a clothing boutique, sits in the historically relevant Gastown in Vancouver. This low-budget project was designed to depict the client’s style in the character of the building while also creating a warm and inviting aesthetic. The interior spaces are designed to paint a picture shrouded in mystery and an alluring sense of discovery. In the rear, a large cylindrical sculpture features an assortment of books salvaged from craigslist. 

The design element functioned as a privacy screen for a washroom, change room, and storage areas. During the nighttime, the stunning feature wall doubles up as an incredible light source creating a glowing aura in the surrounding spaces. The upper portion of the cylinder opens up with voids that emit the light like a lantern from within it.

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Shop front of the Lynnsteven boutique © architecture.ca
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The book wall also helps in the orderly flow of circulation in the building. © architecture.ca
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The inside view showing the void space of the book sculpture containing the lights. © architecture.ca

4. Accessory studio

The story behind the studio’s name is quite an interesting one, as it was designed as an add-on or ‘ accessory space ‘ next to his residence. This small-sized structure was conceptualised as an interactive and collaborative space, with an open concept that encourages the users to partake in activities. 

Located on a steeply sloping site, the building has dynamic mezzanine levels to take advantage of it. The design incorporated a high ceiling, large openings, and glass surfaces that framed gorgeous views of the landscape, thus effortlessly blurring the line between indoor and outdoor areas. 

The wooden-clad exterior ensures a fuzzy and inviting feeling that makes the user feel comfortable. The natural lighting that comes in throughout the day enhances the indoor environment. The building was designed as a contemporary and functional working space. 

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Image showing the exterior view of the studio. © architecture.ca
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The landscaping outside effortlessly blends with the indoor spaces. ©architecture.ca
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Additional leveling of the site was avoided by the creation of mezzanine levels. © architecture.ca

5. Shoreline

The shoreline is a manufacturing facility with a small office space accommodated within the building. The exposed wood building located in a new industrial condominium complex makes a bold statement in the design aesthetics department. This experimental project has a mezzanine office space in the carefully designed double-height space. 

The entire structure is made out of mass timber, made use of Brisco panels-a re-sawn LVL panel, for the first time in the world. The columns, beams, floors, partitions, and the staircase were made from mass timber, thus having a homogenous and natural finish. This pre-fabricated structure worked out to be very economic both financially and in the time frame.

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View showing the prefabricated posts and beams used in the project. © architecture.ca
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The project had a seamless monolithic look as a result of using mass timber for all the components. © architecture.cane
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The clean lines combined with the natural texture of timber ensure a rich contemporary interior. © architecture.ca

6. Reinventer Paris

Architect Michael Green and his firm have been leading a revolution to normalise usage of mass-timber materials. Reinventer Paris intended to take this a step forward. Michael Green Architecture submitted a creative and innovative urban project called Baobab for the Réinventer Paris competition. It was conceptualised as a 35-storeys timber structure, making it the world’s tallest wood building. 

Constantly pushing their boundaries, MGA intended this building to be the foundation stone for the new era for city planning in Paris. The innovative ideas that are multi-dimensional are beyond imagination in terms of the heights and the tasteful use of wood. The clean lines and simple form reflected sophistication and understated beauty. The design looked at creating smaller urban spaces carrying a strong sense of belonging and community. 

The design model had a fascinating assembly of modern urban living spaces, like social housing, a student hotel, and amenities and supporting infrastructure such as an e-car hub, a bus station. Aiming to usher Paris into a sustainable, brighter future, an urban agriculture area was included in the design. The eight-lane Peripherique that acted as the gateway carried the vision of a connected city of Paris, making this design a legacy.  

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The futuristic design aimed at creating a sustainable city plan that had ample open space for people to interact. ©architecture.ca
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Section showing the interiors of living spaces. ©architecture.ca
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Fixing detail of the engineered timber members. ©architecture.ca
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View depicting the overall vision of the project. © architecture.ca

7. Parkway Building

Intended as an urban revitalization project, Architect Michael Green and his team followed the guiding principles of urban conservation. The design retained the historical character and created residential and commercial spaces along with developing the streets. The result was a vibrant and magnificent addition to the neighbourhood. The design had 4 and 6-storey structures that were stepped back from the historical building, thus creating segregation. 

The design included separating mews, large courtyards, and wide pedestrian walkways to create an efficient circulation around the spaces. The defining historical elements and façade features were all retained. The façade of the new development was designed to blend with it. 

The new façade was adorned by pearl coloured panels and historical elements such as the running bond pattern of the glazed white brick, projecting oriel windows, and the recessed entryways of the existing storefronts. Juliet windows in the suite’s living room and accessible roof deck enabled the buildings to harmoniously blend with the context.

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The historical elements of the existing building merged with the new facade elements effortlessly. ©architecture.ca
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The open spaces, courtyards, and balconies aim at creating an ambient space for people to be closer to nature and also interact with others. © architecture.ca
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Careful balance between the old and new construction resulted in a vibrant zone. © architecture.ca

8. OSU College of Urban Forestry

Michael Green Architecture’s passion for wood and forest management has been showcased in the College of Forestry at the Oregon State University. A unique and nurturing environment that promotes learning and understanding was imagined by the firm. The Forest Sciences Complex has been designed as three separate buildings- Peavy hall, an Advanced Wood Products centre (AWP), and ancillary spaces housed in the already existing Richardson hall. 

These buildings were interconnected and amalgamated by intricate and expansive landscaping that housed an arboretum to form a single entity. The arboretum that acts as a live classroom is the USP of the project, intended to raise the learning experience to a notch higher by ensuring a rich educational curriculum. Housed in the Peavy hall and AWP, the innovatively designed classrooms, laboratories for research and testing aids the students to learn and explore the growing wood industry. 

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The exterior view of the OSU College. ©architecture.ca
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The glass facades have timber shades and screens to cut down the sun rays entering the buildings. ©architecture.ca
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The large glass surfaces blurs the line between the interior and exterior. ©architecture.ca

9. Vancouver city hall

The renovation and expansion of Vancouver city hall design by Michael Green Architecture encompassed the linking of a repurposed 1970s structure and an existing library by a double-height mass timber atrium, adorned with glass. The building is considered one of the earliest mass timber projects by the firm. 

The 67m long bridge atrium functions as the connection between departments and the public. The open, transparent design with clerestory windows has been designed intending to create a flexible, free-flowing public space reinforcing the concept of a sustainable city. The entire atrium is spanned by CLT roof joists and supported by enormous CLT columns. The exterior of the atrium has been artfully clad with charred wood, unifying the exterior into a single monolithic entity and also establishing an exterior courtyard.

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The contrasting texture and colour of the different wooden elements add vibrance to the spaces. © architecture.ca
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The interiors are treated with timber members that blend the surfaces together. © architecture.ca
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Full advantage of the versatility of timber has been taken in this project. © architecture.ca

10. Ronald McDonald House

Located on the grounds of the BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House has been designed to create a ‘home away from home’ for families of children who are undergoing treatment at the hospital. Michael Green Architecture intended the project to promote community living that would help in relieving the mental pressure of the occupants. Nurturing, closely-knit spaces were designed in concentric rings. 

The project has four house communities, which include individual kitchens, common areas on each floor. The tilt-up CLT wood living areas have been bridged by a common dining space. An outdoor play area fosters a sense of community. This building accommodating 73 families also has amenities such as educational spaces, a library, and fitness areas. The LEED Gold certified building creates a safe indoor environment enhanced by innovative technologies.

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The exterior facade is designed as an ode to the historical significance of the place © architecture.ca
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The playful interior design eases the tension of the children.
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The interesting massing of the project creates a beautiful skyline. ©architecture.ca

11. North Vancouver Passive House Plus

The architecture of this single-family house was developed by applying the modern technologies and innovative techniques of Architect Michael Green on the preserved age-old heritage, thus enhancing and making it more sustainable and functional. This rebuilt house has a traditional wooden façade that marries modern architectural additions, thus maintaining its historic character. This house was the first building in lower British Columbia that fulfilled the performance specifications of the Passive House Plus standard. It is an ultra-low consumer of energy, having a 90% reduction. 

The preserved front porch blended with the dynamically designed southern portion of the building. A dramatic cantilever roof, triple-glazed windows, and lift-and-slide doors from a high-performance envelope. The flexible indoor spaces with an open plan concept have board-and-batten walls with Craftsman features that incorporate a historical touch.

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The facade carrying the historic character was retained, preserving the local heritage. © architecture.ca
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Addition of the landscape near the entrance porch created an inviting aura. © architecture.ca
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The large windows were triple glazed to ensure heat gain is minimal. © architecture.ca

12. Evergreen Residence

The evergreen residence was an extensive renovation of an existing house built with post and beam construction. Surrounded by a lush green landscape, this house had large glass surfaces that framed these views and brought the outdoors inside the living spaces, making the user feel close to nature. The charred black and light brown wooden cladding works as a stark to the bright green landscape, thus creating a balance. 

The feature staircase fashioned out of reclaimed wood coupled with the double-height living space and built-in bookcases on lower levels that open out to the outdoors is all weaved together in a seamless fashion creating an inviting and comfortable home.

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The contrasting textures and colours paint a balanced picture. ©architecture.ca
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The large windows brings the outdoor areas closer to the people sitting inside the living areas. ©architecture.ca
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The materials used in the interior ensure a warm and welcoming aura is maintained. ©architecture.ca

13. Cannon point Residence

Built on top of a hill in upstate New York, this 3 BHK remote weekend home has a beautiful view looking across Vermont. Design intended to accommodate the entire family, the simple, elegant pitched roofed structure has a natural material palette to camouflage with its surroundings. 

Crisp straight lines coupled with expansive glass surfaces ensure an effortless aesthetic. The exterior wooden cladding has been charred in the traditional Japanese and Scandinavian techniques to ensure durability. 

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The secluded setting of the site ensured that a serene and relaxing environment could be created. ©architecture.ca
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Due to large glass windows, the user gets an illusion of staying in the middle of an open landscape. ©architecture.ca
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The diverse colour scheme of the project as a whole proves to be a visual treat. ©architecture.ca

14. Parthenon Place

Parthenon Place is a renovation project of a 1970s building, which was a huge opportunity due to its location. Located on the shoreline in West Vancouver, the benefit of the surrounding views has been used by cantilevering the house from the rock face. A massive expanse of glass windows frames the panoramic views, bringing the user closer to nature. 

The main target of this project was to create a flexible space that visually merged into the outdoors. The wood-framed structure was redesigned with an open plan that was accessed by an enchanting entrance. A simple roofline defining the entire building and elaborate landscaping near the entryway accentuates the whole place.

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Due to cantilevering the building, a person inside the building would be able to have an unhindered view of the sea and horizon. © architecture.ca
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The western facade of the building was fully designed to cater to having an unhindered view. © architecture.ca
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Timber cladding on the front porch creates a relaxed ambience. ©architecture.ca

15. The Dock Building

The Dock building is a contemporary low budget industrial building, designed to depict an elegant and graceful architectural design. Functioning as a large marina for sailboats, Michael Green Architecture intended to create an ode to the cannery and industrial heritage of waterfront buildings and also harbour for current requirements. 

A gambit of spaces includes workshops, instruction rooms, offices, and services, found their place in the plan. The simple massing of the two intersecting wedge-shaped volumes mirroring each other was intended as a lantern to the sea and land. Made with glulam and polycarbonate for walls, this translucent mass functions as the brightly sunlit workshop space. 

The wedge that faces the land is glazed and functions as the office spaces. The services are tucked above the office spaces and are hidden by wooden screens that accentuate the entire structure. The glulam post and beam structure have white seam panels on the exterior and light timber infill for walls and decks. The construction-grade plywood in the interiors works well for a low budget project such as this.      

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The building as two wedges intersecting. ©architecture.ca
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The wedge facing the land has a rustic look as the facade accentuated by garage doors. ©architecture.ca
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The screen wall that hides the services acts as an accent to the white toned glass facade. © architecture.ca

16. Catalyst Building

Prided as the first office building to be constructed with CLT in Washington State, the Catalyst building is also certified Net Zero and Zero Carbon building. This ambitious project serves as a standing example for innovative sustainable techniques, material selection, operational practices, and integrated green building design. 

Now serving as a hub for growth, this building aimed to revitalize the underutilized site. The pre-fabricated mass timber structure has been built amid a vibrant pedestrian area and an active railway, having noise and vibration issues. The site challenges were resolved with efficient design ideas and ingenious technology. 

Envisioned as a collaborative learning space, a flexible open plan with multi-functional spaces was designed, supported by a long-spanning structural support system.  

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The exterior view of the catalyst building had a monotone finish.
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The entrance lobby continued to have a similar aesthetic creating a sense of flow. © architecture.ca
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The interiors had crisp straight lines and a simple timber finish punctuated by glass windows. © architecture.ca
Author

Srinidhi Sriraman is a climate responsive architect who believes in giving back to the environment. A travel enthusiast who strongly believes “what is life worth if there are no stories to tell.” She took to writing to share, learn and also grow in the process.

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