As the exterior of the Wood Innovation and Design Centre is unveiled this week in downtown Prince George, UNBC is pleased to welcome Dr. Guido Wimmers as the inaugural program lead for the proposed Master of Engineering in Integrated Wood Design which will be housed at the new facility.
Wimmers envisions a future where wood will become the dominate building material around the world and he believes the proposed Master of Engineering program at UNBC can be the catalyst to make that happen.
Dr. Guido Wimmers. Download High Resolution image.
Wimmers will use his background in sustainable engineering and architecture to help construct a curriculum that will give students the skills they need to find innovative 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.”
College of Science and Management Dean Dr. Daniel Ryan said Wimmers is the right person to get the proposed program 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.”
Wimmers believes the six-story Wood Innovation and Design Centre is a model for future wood structures which could be up to 30 stories high.
“This will bring sustainable construction to an entirely new level,” Wimmers said. “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.”
Born in Germany, Wimmers holds a PhD 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 innovative Austria House in Whistler prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics. That building is seen as a model for how to use passive energy to heat and cool houses and other buildings.
As the construction of the WIDC nears completion, UNBC will be celebrating the building’s architect at convocation ceremonies in Prince George on May 30. Michael Green, a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, will be receiving an honorary degree.