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HomeNewsRestoration of UNBC Wood Innovation Research Lab to cost a million dollars

Restoration of UNBC Wood Innovation Research Lab to cost a million dollars

The cost to restore UNBC’s Wood Innovation Research Lab in Prince George will be roughly a million dollars.

That’s according to Director of Facilities Management and Capital Planning Dr. David Claus (Claws) as the facility has remained closed since the downtown explosion that occurred in late August.

Claus (Claws) explained to MyPGNow.com how the building was able to withstand such a boom stating the damage could have been much worse.

“The way that structure is put together it has a wood mass timber actual structure and then the walls are made up of panels and they are attached to that structure. The mass timber structure wasn’t impacted by the fire or the explosion, it flexed and came back just as it was designed to do but some of the panels had been affected by the fire. They were all burnt.”

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“We brought back the original design and construction team who put the building together originally and we were able to get them all back to get it to its original state. That is what we are working on.”

He added eight of the wall panels were replaced and now the insulation work is set to begin. Once the insulation is done, the exterior cladding will occur shortly afterward.

Claus noted there is a lot of sensitive equipment that is used inside the building and a separate project is being undertaken to get that assessed, sent back to the manufacturers, and subsequently refurbished.

The university and the consultants are very impressed with how the building performed during the aftermath of the late summer explosion.

While nobody wants to see a high-performance building involved in a fire, it was a chance for everyone involved to see how the research lab responded.

“We found a couple of things. The building flexed very well and came back leaving very little damage from the actual explosion – none of the structure had to be replaced. The other thing we found is the wall assembly and the insulation that was in there did a really good job of protecting the inside of the building from the fire. There was only one wall that had to be replaced and the other thing we found was that when you are firefighting a lot of water gets into the building – sometimes that does way more damage than the fire itself and in this case, the building was able to shed the water and then dry out as it was designed to do.”

“We don’t have a lot of mold or rot or things like that to deal with as one often does in the aftermath of a fire,” added Claus.

In September, the Prince George RCMP determined a suspected copper wire theft, which damaged a natural gas line contributed to the Dominion Street structure blowing up.

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The downtown explosion sent three people to hospital, one of which was Victoria Mcgivern, a city employee, who was transferred to a Vancouver Hospital for further treatment of her injuries and burns.

A GoFundMe page was set up to aid in her recovery, which raised over $86,000.

Prince George firefighters noted that 50 businesses were impacted by residual damage related to the explosion – nine buildings had their windows blown out.

UNBC is hoping to re-open the research lab by the end of the 2024 spring season.

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