With the wrap now off the Wood Innovation and Design Centre, the leader of the University of Northern British Columbia program the building is being built to house was unveiled on Tuesday.
Dr. Guido Wimmers will take on the task of guiding the master of engineering program to realization and central to that job will be constructing a curriculum meant to give students the skills to find new ways to use wood and improve on existing wood engineering.
"If you look at the 18th century, everything was brick. In the 19th century it was all about steel," Wimmers said. "The last century was mainly about concrete and we've done some really amazing things with concrete, but the future is all about wood and biomass, our only sustainable building material."
Born in Germany, Wimmers holds a doctorate in building science from Leopold-Franzens University in Innsbruck, Austria. He moved to Canada in 2007 and was part of the team that designed the Austria House in Whistler prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Dr. Daniel Ryan, UNBC's College of Science and Management Dean, said Wimmers is the right person to get the program, which is in the proposal stage, off the ground.
"This is an excellent opportunity to bring in a nationally and internationally acclaimed program lead," Ryan said. "We're looking forward to developing a high-calibre program that will lead the way in North America."
Although the plastic wrap around the six-storey structure was taken off in the last few days, the WIDC remains under construction at the corner of Fifth and George downtown and is expected to be completed this fall.
Wimmers said the building "will bring sustainable construction to an entirely new level." "Wood buildings are more sustainable because they originate from a renewable resource, but they are also cheaper to build, provide excellent seismic stability, are carbon neutral, and have health benefits beyond what other building materials can provide," Wimmers said.