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courtesy of MGA


The new Ronald McDonald House of British Columbia (RMHBC) provides a “home away from home” for out of town families with children receiving medical treatment at BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Growing from their old residence serving 12 families to a new 73 family facility risked a significant shift in the delivery of services and the culture of the new larger home for the RMHBC organization. At the outset, the architect and client sought a solution that would feel like a home and not a hotel. The architect’s ambition was to preserve the nurturing, closely-bonded social connection found in the original 12 family Shaughnessy house. From beginning to end the architect integrated layers to the design that would help families find both solace and community as they go through one of the most significant and challenging moments of life with their severely sick child. [1]

The site, located on the edge of the hospital’s grounds, borders a suburban-scale neighbourhood. The architecture bridges between the quiet residential fabric and the institutional architecture of the hospital. The building forms are accessible and driven by modesty, endurance and a warm aesthetic. Iron-spot brick is used to durably protect a highly innovative structure of mass timber walls and light wood floor construction. A carbon-neutral embodied footprint enhances the performance of the building, which exceeds LEED Gold standards. 

The design layers various spaces to help families find solace and community as they endure significantly challenging moments with their severely sick children. The design breaks down into four “houses” stitched together with common areas—dining rooms, living rooms and courtyards. Each house provides its own identity, with interior colour and wayfinding devices suitable to the diverse ages and backgrounds of kids, from toddlers to teens. An internal ground level “house loop” connects all communal areas, from inside to outside to inside again. Space is arranged to enhance shared-parenting opportunities, with courtyards wrapped by living and dining rooms to contain toddlers, and increasingly independent play spaces for older children located further from the heart of the building. 

Conceptually, the architecture forms concentric rings. The rings begin with the sick child and family, growing spatially: from the individual suites, to the six families sharing each floor of a house, to the 18 families sharing the kitchen and living room of each house, to the 36 families that bring together two houses in a shared dining room, and finally to the ring of all 73 families, brought together in the central living room and courtyards. Places to retreat and find quiet time are complemented by ever-larger gathering areas that help build community and shared support. 

The architect introduced significant innovations in mass timber architecture by developing a hybrid CLT wall and TJI floor structure. This is the first example globally of a tilt-up CLT and light-wood-frame construction, and its century-plus durability will keep costs down for the charity. The wood innovations in the project are important milestones for institutional construction, while remaining a subtext to the profoundly important nature of the service Ronald McDonald House provides to the region. [2]


Governor General’s Award in Architecture, 2016
Lieutenant-Governor of BC Award in Architecture, 2015
Masonry Institute of BC, 2015


[1]      “Ronald McDonald House BC.” MICHAEL GREEN ARCHITECTURE. Accessed June 17, 2021. http://mg-architecture.ca/work/ronald-mcdonald-house-bc/.

[2]      “Governor General's Medal Winner: Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon.” Canadian Architect, June 21, 2019. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/governor-generals-ronald-mcdonald/.

Additional information:

Boddy, Trevor. “Apostle of Wood.” Canadian Architect, November 2015.

“Michael Green Speaks at Sam Sullivan's November 2013 Public Salon.” YouTube. MGA, December 3, 2013. https://youtu.be/GtSPXw-bWeY.

“Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon by MGA: MICHAEL GREEN ARCHITECTURE.” Architizer, January 18, 2021. https://architizer.com/projects/ronald-mcdonald-house-bc-yukon/.

“Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon.” Woodworks Innovation Network. Accessed June 17, 2021. https://www.woodworksinnovationnetwork.org/projects/598.

“Ronald McDonald House BC.” ITC Construction Group. Accessed June 17, 2021. https://www.itc-group.com/project/ronald-mcdonald-house-bc.

Project Title: Ronald McDonald House BC and Yukon
Artists:  Michael Green Architecture (MGA)
Year: 2014

Place: Vancouver, BC

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