Both Forbes and The Economist recently touted the opportunities in building with wood, advocating the new way to build is with mass timber products. The Economist article “Top of the trees” opens with a description of a pagoda in Japan, a building that has withstood natural elements such as storms and earthquakes for over 1,400 years. This remains the inspiration for many of today’s modern wood buildings. How can we build with wood in a way that will withstand rain, fire, and earthquakes? And will it be safe?
(Design for the 21-story high Haut building in Amsterdam. Photo credit: Team V Architectuur)
The answer is to build with mass timber, a term which applies to wood products that are engineered to be strong, durable, fire-resistant, and safe. These engineered wood products have been used for decades and research continues to be done on ways to improve them. The architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill along with Oregon State University recently showed how strong engineered wood can be. The researchers used cross-laminated timber (CLT) with a thin layer of reinforced concrete spread across the surface in a hybrid form known as concrete-jointed timber. Pressure was applied to the CLT panel to test its weight capacity. The floor began to crack once 8 times the designed load was applied. (Read more about this experiment in Testing Mass Timber)
In Forbes’ Tree Houses: Is Wood Really The Future Of Skyscrapers?, Laurie Winkless dives further into the future of mass timber. Winkless describes the potential shift of building with wood instead of steel and concrete and what that means for the environment. The production process for steel and concrete are energy-intensive and highly-polluting, putting wood above them in terms of environmentally friendly materials. But it is quickly pointed out that in order to be truly ecofriendly, this wood should be sourced from regulated, certified forests that are managed carefully with a larger number of new trees growing than harvested. (Read more about the connection between sustainable forestry and building with wood on New England Forestry Foundation’s blog Into the Woods)
(The newly built Brock Common at University of British Columbia. Photo credit: Unknown)
So what does this mean for the future of tall buildings? The number of mass timber buildings around the world is growing, as is the height. Brock Commons, the 18 story tall dormitory at University of British Columbia recently reached a milestone in construction. It currently holds the title of tallest wood building in the world, but will soon be beat out by the 21-story HAUT in Amsterdam. One thing is sure: mass timber buildings are here to stay.
What makes cross laminated timber (CLT) such a great material to work with? In the video “Stronger Than Steel,” architect Thomas Robinson explains that it’s about the quality. “The great thing about cross laminated timber is you can actually use what you might call in the industry lower value wood,” Robinson says.
“It’s kind of taking plywood to a new level, but it’s different. It’s very stiff and it’s very strong. Those pieces together create a very stable panel that can be prefabricated off site and then basically shipped to the site and craned into place.”
Robinson has been a longtime proponent for building with wood. A principal architect at LEVEL Architecture, Robinson has been involved in numerous mass timber buildings such as Framework and Albina Yard.
Watch the video below to hear more about cross laminated timber being used in the U.S. and what’s next for the industry.
The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. is opening their newest exhibit, Timber City, on Saturday, September 17th.
The exhibit focuses on the advantages of timber construction such as strength, fire resistance, sustainability, and aesthetics. Timber City will highlight the recent expansion of tall wood buildings in the U.S., such as the two winners of the U.S. Tall Wood Building Competition.
Timber City was made possible by Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura, founding partners of the Boston-based architectural design firm ikd. Kim and Itakura curated and designed the exhibition which combines architectural models, prefabricated wood walls, and large examples of mass timber. There is also a focus on the newest timber technologies, such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), and a look at how timber manufacturing can stimulate other manufacturing communities.
Two events related to tall timber construction will also be occurring this fall at the museum. The talk “Murray Grove: A Case Study In Tall Timber Construction” by building designer Andrew Waugh will take place on September 20th and “Spotlight on Design: SHoP, LEVER Architecture, Arup” will focus on the benefits of tall timber construction on October 13th.
Timber City is funded in part by the U.S. Forest Service, the Softwood Lumber Board, and Nixon Peabody. Timber City has been adapted from an exhibition organized by ikd for BSAspace at the Boston Society of Architects. Timber City will be on display until May 21, 2017.
To read the full description of Timber City and for more information, visit The National Building Museum’s exhibit site.
On the Build It With Wood blog, we talk about mass timber a lot. We love the potential of the wood products, the climate benefits, the aesthetics, and the durability (just to name a few). And sometimes we get wrapped up in our love for mass timber that we forget that other people haven’t even heard of mass timber or have only recently been introduced.
So when Architects Newspaper published the article “Watch SOM test its latest in timber tower technology,” we thought it was great to share. While we’re looking at new designs for structures or adding another pin to our map of wood buildings, it’s easy to forget about the wood that is used in construction. Products like cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue laminated timber (glulam) are not new to the market, but researchers are still constantly testing and researching wood products.
As Architects Newspaper highlighted, Oregon State University and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill have been testing wood panels by applying huge amounts of pressure on them. In this latest example, 48 sensors recorded the stress level over the two hour testing period. In the time-lapse video, 82,000 pounds of pressure was applied to a 36’x8′ span of CLT/concrete composite. That’s 8 times the required design load. With every test, researchers learn more about the best uses for wood so that mass timber buildings will be as safe as possible.
Watch the video below and learn more about research on mass timber.
It seems like just last week we were writing about construction beginning on a new dormitory and now it’s finishing up. The world’s tallest wood building installed the last wood panel last week, wrapping up this stage of construction in an impressive 66 days. After this milestone, focus will turn to completing the interior and preparing the building for the 404 University of British Columbia students that will soon call the dormitory home. Construction is expected to be fully completed in 2017.
(The last wood panels being installed on Brock Commons. Photo credit: Unknown)
Acton Ostry Architects, the firm that designed Brock Commons, posted on Twitter a time lapse of the construction process. REMI Network details the project, saying the building is made up of 1302 glulam columns and 464 CLT panels.
Construction on Brock Commons wouldn’t be possible without a team of experts. The engineered wood products were provided by Structurlam and made from locally harvested trees. The structural engineering firm, Fast + Epp, used the nature of wood to produce the 18 story building. Paul Fast, founder of Fast + Epp, said of Brock Commons, “We pushed ourselves relentlessly over months of work with the design team and the CLT manufacturer to simplify the structure — think LEGO. The building blends the simplicity and modularity of LEGO with the concrete-like strength of cross laminated timber to help ensure structural efficiency which in the past has been one of the major barriers to building tall with wood. Our solutions effectively address that concern.”
As if being the tallest wood building isn’t enough, Brock Commons also comes with a great view.
To read more about Brock Commons, check out our other blog posts, “Construction on UBC’s new wood dormitory begins” and “Construction on UBC dorm continues.”
Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) produced a new video called “Forest to Frame.” It focuses on how people in the future will need more buildings as the global population rises, the building technologies that use wood, and the important role forests play.
“The choices we make about the materials used as we develop the built environment have long-term effects on our society and the environment,” OFRI says in the video’s description. “Choose wood. It’s beautiful, strong, versatile and renewable.”
Watch the video below or visit their website WhyBuildWithWood.org to learn more about the benefits of mass wood timber construction.
Amsterdam has plans in the future for a new residential tower made from wood. Arch Daily reports that the tower will be 73 meters (240 feet) tall and will become The Netherland’s tallest timber framed building.
(Design rendering of HAUT, Amsterdam’s newest tall timber building. Photo credit: Team V Architectuur)
The project is called HAUT, short for “Haute Couture,” and will located next to the Amstel River. HAUT will be designed by Team V Architectuur with Lingotto, Nicole Maarsen and ARUP.
The building will be made up of 55 apartment units within the 21-story building. The interiors are currently designed with exposed wood and large windows overlooking the river and city.
(Photo credit: Team V Architectuur)
(Photo credit: Team V Architectuur)
The sustainability of building with wood is also apparent in HAUT. Arch Daily says that over three million kilos of carbon dioxide will be stored in the cross-laminated pieces once completed. Energy-generating facades and wastewater purification systems are also planned to reach a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Outstanding rating.
(Photo credit: Team V Architectuur)
(Photo credit: Team V Architectuur)
Back in June, we wrote about construction beginning on University of British Columbia’s new timber dormitory. Pictures of the construction process have just been made available and the frame is quickly taking shape.
(Construction is underway on July 18th for the new 18 story dormitory at UBC. Photo credit: Acton Ostry Architects Inc. & University of British Columbia)
(More than half of the floors have started to become assembled. Photo credit: Acton Ostry Architects Inc. & University of British Columbia)
Canadian Architect reports that a new floor is being built every 3 days and is expected to increase. The dormitory is made out of a combination of glue laminated timber (glulam) and cross laminated timber (CLT). The building is scheduled to be complete by Spring 2017.
Preliminary plans were recently revealed for the tallest hybrid timber structure in the world, Architectural Digest announced. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and Vancouver developer PortLiving have teamed up to build a residential building thought to break current records.
(Design rendering of the planned Terrace House. Photo credit: PortLiving)
Details for the project are still under wraps, but it is believed the skyscraper will be the tallest hybrid timber structure in the world once complete. The building, currently known as Terrace House, will be located in an area of Vancouver called Coal Harbor. Nick Mafi reports that the upper portion of the structure will be a combination of a timber frame supported by a concrete and steel core.
Vancouver is not a stranger to building with mass timber. Construction at University of British Columbia’s campus is underway for an 18 story tall dormitory.
Vancouver will soon have the world’s tallest mass-timber building. Construction has begun at the future home of University of British Columbia’s 18 story tall dormitory. At 53 meters tall (173 feet), Brock Commons student housing will be 4 stories taller than Treet in Norway which currently holds the title for tallest mass-timber building.
As The Province reports, construction began this week as engineered wood panels and pillars were trucked in. All the engineered wood products are made off site by Structurlam Products and delivered. The building will consist of cross-laminated-timber (CLT) floors and walls held up by pillars composed of glue-laminated wood (glulam).
Nicholas Sills, a supervisor at Structurlam, told The Province, “If you can panelize (materials) and put things together tightly like a Lego kit of parts, it can be extremely efficient…We hope this project goes up very, very fast.”
To see pictures of the building under construction, watch the video by David Rigler in The Province’s “UBC’s timber tower starts to rise.”