Symposium | Off-site Construction Research Centre | UNB

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Off-site Construction Research Centre

Off-site Accelerate 2024

Advancing construction through collaboration

On Jan. 18, 2024, the OCRC hosted its first specialty symposium, engaging attendees in discussions about new and emerging trends in the industry, and the transformative work the OCRC has been a part of.

Topics included

  • Off-site construction's impact on housing supply
  • Digital transformation in delay reduction
  • Innovative connection methods in precast concrete panels
  • AI and architectural floor plan digitization
  • Enhancing seismic resilience in precast wall connections
  • Simulation-driven off-site construction planning
  • Economic efficiency in competitive bidding
  • Advanced ultra-high-performance concrete applications
  • Advancing construction methods with a certificate program
  • Augmented reality for prefabricated panel inspection

Keynote speaker

Trevor Nightingale

In 2023, Trevor became the Associate Vice President of NRC’s Engineering Division responsible for the delivery of climate change programming for the construction sector. In 2022, he created and launched the NRC’s Platform to Decarbonise the Construction Sector at Scale which seeks to bring together academia, industry, and federal science-based departments to engage in research and technology development needed for Canada’s construction sector to become a low-carbon economy. The NRC Platform includes two challenge programs, Construction Sector Digitalisation and Productivity and Low-Carbon Built Environment.

From 2019 to 2023 he was the Director General of the Construction Research Centre at the National Research Council Canada where he oversaw 350 research and technical professionals who push the frontiers of building science and engineering, and publish the National Model Codes and the National Master Construction Specifications. The Research Centre has three key areas of focus, climate change adaptation and mitigation and health impacts of the built environment.

Prior to becoming Director General in 2019, Trevor led NRC's High-performance Buildings program, which helped industry develop and commercialize energy-saving retrofit technologies for commercial and institutional buildings.

Trevor was the Director of Research and Development for the Intelligent Building Operations research unit from 2010 to 2015, where he guided research in the areas of lighting, heating, ventilation, human factors, building controls, and energy measurement and verification.

Trevor began his career at NRC in 1992 as an acoustics researcher, has more than 100 publications, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Building Engineering, from Heriot Watt University in the United Kingdom.


Qian Chen

Qian Chen is an assistant professor in Civil Engineering at the School of Engineering at The University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus). She uses digital and immersive technologies, optimization algorithms and fabrication-aware design methods to enable integration of stakeholders while accelerating the digital transformation of construction projects.

Dr. Chen completed her Doctor of Science degree in Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering from ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Her previous research was focused on a systematic approach to enabling digital supply chain coordination in construction projects when utilizing lean production methods, BIM techniques and optimization algorithms. Her research outputs have brought to the industry additional insights about the BIM-based digital information and material flows among designers, material suppliers, and contractors and encouraged them to standardize communication interfaces and speed up design-to-construction decision-making processes.

Her academic journey has spanned many countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, China, Switzerland, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. Prior to joining UBC, Dr. Chen worked at the University of Cambridge supporting the UK Construction Productivity Taskforce in undertaking a construction performance measurement and benchmarking project.

Since UBC, Dr. Chen established the Construction Integration and Digitalization lab and her research group has collaborated with prefabrication industry stakeholders and municipalities to develop digital circular economy strategies, configurator designs and digital fabrication processes to improve the performance of industrialized construction.

Patrick Crabbe

Patrick Crabbe is the Director of Mass Timber at Bird Construction, a publicly traded commercial and industrial conglomerate, recognized as one of the top five general contractors in Canada. With a dedicated career in developing markets for high-value structural wood products and collaborating with industry stakeholders, Patrick possesses a comprehensive understanding of construction contract methods and supply chain solutions for successfully executing large and complex mass timber building programs.

In addition to his role at Bird Construction, Patrick is also the leader of a $200 million Mass Timber Manufacturing start-up, known as the Mass Timber Company (MTC). Located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, MTC is a sawmill-integrated, currently engaged in a $2.3 million feasibility effort to code-approve proprietary, high-performing mass timber products crafted from undervalued-commodity maritime spruce, pine and fir (SPF). These innovations are set to expand North American mass timber product capacity and promote sustainable forestry practices. MTC has the potential to add structural systems for over 3,000 units annually by 2027.

Joon Ha Hwang

Joon is a Research Council Officer at the Construction Research Centre, currently in a theme lead role to support the accelerated adoption of advanced construction practices in Canada. He has over ten years of professional experience in the upstream oil and gas sector which include responsibilities in corporate strategy and development, project management and project engineering. He oversaw internal process improvement projects, supply chain optimization initiatives, international expansion initiatives and acquisitions prior to joining the NRC.

Since joining the NRC in 2020, he has worked closely with the Construction Research Centre on various projects providing business support from a market/business analysis and assessment perspective. This led him to supporting to the development of the NRC platform to decarbonize the construction sector at scale.

In his current role as the lead for Advanced Construction Practices theme under the Construction Sector Digitalization and Productivity Challenge Program, he is focusing on mobilizing industry and academic experts to de-risk and break down barriers in off-site construction and construction automation to enhance construction productivity and help the construction sector reach Canada’s 2030 and 2050 emissions targets.