New residential building at UBC to be made with wood

Plans are underway to construct one of the tallest wood buildings in the world. The University of British Columbia will soon be building a new residence building that will stand 174 feet tall. The 18 story tall wood student residence building will be home to 404 students in a mixture of studios and four-bedroom units. The building will also provide students with study and social gathering spaces and a lounge.

UBC residence building(Design plan for the new 18 story UBC residence building. Photo credit: Acton Ostry Architects)

Project plans describe the building consisting of a mass timber structure above a concrete base. UBC aims for the building to be certified at the LEED Gold level or higher.

The tall wood building will consist of a mass timber superstructure atop a concrete base. Wood is a sustainable and versatile building material that stores, rather than emits, carbon dioxide. UBC aims for the building to achieve a minimum LEED Gold certification.

The project is managed by UBC Properties Trust. The project architect is Acton Ostry Architects, who is working closely with the tall wood advisor Architekten Hermann Kaufmann from Austria. Fast + Epp is the structural engineer.

Funding contributions include UBC’s Student Housing and Hospitality Services, the Binational Softwood Lumber Council, Forestry Innovation Investment, Natural Resources Canada and B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Read more about the new UBC student residence building in their press release.

Common Ground High School is anything but common

A New Haven, CT high school is undergoing major renovations that will revitalize the 225 student school. Common Ground High School is a unique mix of a high school, an urban farm, and an environmental education center. A new center is currently underway which will include science labs, an art studio, and a multipurpose space for community gatherings, performance, and athletics.

(Rendering of the center’s exterior at Common Ground High School. Photo credit: Gray Organschi Architecture)

This project is extraordinary in many ways. The new center is one of the first buildings in the United States to use cross-laminated timber (CLT) as the primary structure. The project was designed by Gray Organschi Architecture who are known for their sustainable approaches to building design and maximizing the use of renewable materials in their buildings. On the project website, Gray Organschi Architecture highlight the building’s black spruce CLT and heavy timber trusses. By using timber in the structural components, the building’s structural system offsets an estimated annual emission equivalent of 77 cars.


(Rendering of the center’s interior. The center is focused on sustainability and uses cross-laminated timber throughout the building. Photo credit: Gray Organshi Architecture)

The center also boasts on-site energy production, storm water treatment, natural solar illumination, and passive ventilation. Construction on Common Ground began in October, 2013 and is expected to be completed May, 2016.

Common Ground 3
(Site key for Common Ground High School. The plans include new classrooms, a multipurpose building, reduces energy and water consumption, and has a working farm on campus. Photo credit: Gray Organschi Architecture)

See more photos and plans for Common Ground High School at the Gray Organschi project page and on the Common Ground High School’s campaign vision.

A first look at UMass Amherst’s Integrated Design Building

On the campus of University of Massachusetts Amherst, 100 people celebrated the construction of the new Integrated Design Building. Set to open in the Spring of 2017, the building will be the home to Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Department of Architecture from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and the Building Construction Technology program from the College of Natural Sciences.

(Construction is under way at the site of the future Integrated Design Building. Photo credit: Emily Kingston)

At 87,500 square feet, the building will consist of classrooms, computer labs, lounges, materials-testing lab, green-building lab, a wood shop, a cafe, exhibit space, library, and function spaces. According to the building construction website, it will also include a covered indoor courtyard on the first floor and an outdoor courtyard complete with green roof on the third floor.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said it will be “the most advanced wood structure in the United States.”

Design rendering

Design rendering 2
(Design renderings of UMass Amherst’s Integrated Design Building)

The building was originally designed for a steel and concrete frame, but was redesigned to consist of glue-laminated wood, cross-laminated timber and wood-concrete composite.

20151016_110319(An example of the wooden beams which will be used during construction. Photo credit: Emily Kingston)

Former Congressman John Olver worked with UMass Amherst staff and professors to secure an additional $3 million in funding, which allowed plans for the wood building to move forward.

2015_Design_Bldg_Celebration_js_9444(Former Congressman John Olver, far left, assists in the symbolic groundbreaking for the Integrated Design Building. Photo credit: UMass Amherst)

We’re looking forward to seeing more of this project! Read more about the current status of the building on the building’s website.

National Forest Products Week 2015

This week marks National Forest Products Week 2015. Every year on the third week of October, America celebrates both our nation’s forests and the products that are produced. The annual celebration, now in its 55th year, highlights the natural services, products, and environmental benefits that forests provide.

Forest History Society R9_435360
(W.C. Benson, General Manager of the Amyx Manufacturing Company, shows the five stages from an ash blank to a finished bat, 1945. Photo credit: The U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region Historical Photograph Collection)

In the proclamation put out by President Obama, it was stated, “…we recognize the ways in which our Nation’s forests contribute to our livelihood and recommit to ensuring their health and stability for centuries to come.”

Forest History Society R9_499680
(Ranger Robert L. Phillips looks over wooden bowls in a storage shed, Granville, Vermont, 1961. Photo credit: The U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region Photograph Collection)

Read the entire Presidential Proclamation from the White House about National Forest Products Week and about the importance of our nation’s forests.

Climate Week 2015 event a success

On opening night of Climate Week New York City 2015, panelists at the “Sustainable Development Benefits of Building with Wood” event looked to our nation’s forests for innovative climate solutions. Organized by New England Forestry Foundation, Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and Sustainability Practice Network, the panel considered how wood construction could play a revolutionary role in reducing the extent of future climate change.

The event took place in September as part of the seventh annual Climate Week which is organized by the international non-profit The Climate Group. The Climate Group aims to undertake climate change issues and global greenhouse gas emissions through solutions compatible with economic growth. Over 100 events encouraging climate change discussion, awareness, and action were hosted by community groups, universities, NGOs, and companies from around the world during Climate Week.

(From left to right: Frank Lowenstein, Patrick Holmes, Michael Deane, Michael Green, Dr. Chad Oliver, Bill Parsons. Not pictured: Roger Platt)

The panel consisted of six diverse and accomplished experts in architecture, green building engineering, and forest conservation. The panel included Michael Green (Michael Green Architecture), Patrick Holmes (USDA), Frank Lowenstein (New England Forestry Foundation), Dr. Chad Oliver (Yale University), Bill Parsons (WoodWorks), and Roger Platt (U.S. Green Building Council).  Michael Deane (Turner Construction Company) moderated the panel event.

The open-dialog discussion began with Vancouver-based architect Michael Green who is known for his designs of wooden skyscrapers. In his opening statement, Green began by showing a rendering of the 102-story tall Empire State Building made of steel cables surrounded by wood panels. Speaking passionately to the crowd, Green said, “We have to shift society’s perception of what’s possible because we haven’t seen a new way to build a skyscraper before this in the past 100 years. It’s tough to change the construction industry, but it’s happening.”

Michael Green presenting(Michael Green addressing the crowd about tall timber buildings. Photo credit: NEFF)

Proceeding Green was NEFF’s own Deputy Director Frank Lowenstein who highlighted the economic and environmental aspects of increased use of wood in buildings along with the benefits of active forest management. Lowenstein proposed a radical idea to maximize the carbon benefits of forests by harvesting them in a sustainable way, improve their health while doing so, and to store that wood carbon in long-lasting buildings as much as possible.

Dr. Chad Oliver, Director of Yale’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, then continued the conversation on forest management. He discussed the carbon emission benefits of avoiding steel and concrete, along with how to protect the biodiversity of forest ecosystems.

Frank Lowenstein presenting(Frank Lowenstein presenting on sustainable forestry. Photo credit: NEFF)

Patrick Holmes, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary at the U.S.D.A., followed Oliver. He highlighted the recent announcement of the winners for the 2015 Tall Wood Building competition, a mixed-use building in Portland, Oregon and a residential condominium in New York City. Emphasizing the importance of a forest products market, Holmes argued that building with wood combats economic challenges through innovation.

National Director of WoodWorks, Bill Parsons, reviewed current building codes allowing for wood buildings in U.S. He mentioned that creating mid-rise wood buildings is well within code and that, “There are lots of applications that don’t require you to build the biggest building you can imagine.”

Roger Platt, President of the U.S. Green Building Council, concluded the panelist presentations with talk about LEED certifications and life-cycle analysis of building materials. He discussed issues with sourcing materials long distances away from the site and the significance of regulation during manufacturing.

After opening the floor for questions from the audience, the panel further discussed sustainable forestry, land protection, and energy efficiency of buildings.

Watch all of the presentations from the event on our video section!

U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition

Recently, the U.S.D.A. and Softwood Lumber Board announced the winners of the 2015 U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition. The winning designs were awarded $3 million to support tall wood demonstration projects.

The East Coast winner is 475 West 18th in New York City, a residential condominium building proposed by 130-134 Holdings LLC, in partnership with Spiritos Properties, SHoP Architects, Arup, Icor Associates, and environmental consultancy Atelier Ten.

SHoP_475-West-18th-Street_Great-Room_SHoP-Architects-PC(Interior design for the East Coast winner in New York City, New York. Photo credit: SHoP Architects)

The West Coast winner is Framework, an urban and rural ecological project located in Portland, Oregon. It is anticipated to be one of the first tall timber structures in the country at 12-stories. The building is described as consisting of one level of ground floor retail, 5 levels of office, 5 levels of workforce housing and a roof top amenity space.

(Exterior design for the West Coast winner in Portland, Oregon. Photo credit: Framework)

The competition is meant to be “the first step in a process to showcase the safe application, practicality and sustainability of tall wood structures (minimum 80 feet in height) that uses mass timber, composite wood technologies and innovative building techniques” and was established “to provide scientific as well as technical support to encourage and support the design and construction of tall wood demonstration projects within the U.S.”

See the winners and learn more about the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition.