Mass Timber Mills Coming to Maine — but where and when?

The mass timber supply chain is coming to New England but where and when, exactly, remains an open question. In February of this year, two companies announced they would be opening cross-laminated timber (CLT) factories in Maine within eighteen to twenty-four months. SmartLam, LLC of Montana committed to announcing a mill site as did North Carolina-based LignaTerra Global. LignaTerra, working closely with the on-the-ground economic development organization Our Katahdin, has indicated it may locate within or near shuttered paper mills in Millinocket, helping to revive the local forest products economy.

Both companies would take advantage of the considerable spruce-fir resource in Maine, found to be suitable for CLT manufacture and construction and already supported by a regional logging and milling industry.

But neither has announced exactly where they will locate these facilities and when they will break ground.

Each indicates that strong demand is driving their decision. SmartLam has considered construction of a second plant in its Columbia Falls, MT location to be able to fill orders for CLT across the country, and says the decision to locate in Maine came as a response to a growing number of inquiries from the U.S. Northeast.

We hope to hear the Maine announcements soon, knowing that the companies will start to generate mass timber expertise and a new supply chain for wood fiber in New England that brings value to our region’s forests. Stay tuned.

AMeninForest

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Second Mass Timber Conference

Portland, Oregon is preparing for the second annual International Mass Timber Conference and it’s shaping up to be even bigger than last year.

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Produced again by Forest Business Network, the conference is attracting professionals from around the world to discuss innovative building products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), nail-laminated timber (nail lam), glue laminated timber (glulam), and other mass timber products. Hundreds of attendees from 15 countries have registered so far and many more are expected before the event from March 28-30. For year two, the conference has moved to the Oregon Convention Center to account for the growing number of attendees and speakers.

Back by popular demand, a mass timber building tour will precede two days of educational panels, an expo, and networking events. NEFF staff participated in the 2016 tour and visited five mass timber buildings in and around downtown Portland. This year, new buildings have been added to the tour and include Carbon12, Ankrom Moisan Headquarters, and Fire Station 76. Participants in 2016 visited Albina Yard while it was still under constructions, but this year will be able to see it completed.

carbon12  (Carbon12, the tallest timber and CLT building in the United States, will be a stop on the 2017 mass timber building tour. Photo credit: Baumber Studio)

The conference will also be led by keynote speakers including Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for The Rolling Stones and a conservationist tree farmer. The educational tracks have also doubled in size and now features 80 global speakers addressing topics such as the environment, sustainability, developing, building, architecture, engineering, manufacturing, and research.

Craig Rawlings, President & CEO of Forest Business Network, said of the upcoming conference, “A dedicated mass timber event was needed when we launched the inaugural Mass Timber Conference in 2016 and yet the fever pitch excitement for these products and our 2017 event only reaffirms that mass timber is the new sustainable choice for greener buildings and growing cities.”

A detailed agenda, building tour information, interactive exhibit hall floorplan, and more can be found at MassTimberConference.com.

We hope to see you there!

UMass Amherst Design Building opens its doors to students

University of Massachusetts Amherst has officially opened the doors to the new Design Building! The four-story, 87,200 square foot Design Building is home to three academic programs; Building and Construction Technology, Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, and Department of Architecture.

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 (The UMass Amherst Design Building is open for the spring semester for students and staff. Photo credit: UMass Amherst)

Thanks to a grant through the 2014 Environmental Bond Bill, the Design Building serves as a demonstration of new and innovative wood construction technologies. The building integrates a structural system consisting of exposed heavy engineered timber and cross-laminated timber (CLT) decking and shear walls. A zipper truss spans the two-story high building common space. Exterior landscape includes active rainwater detention basins and local stone elements extended into the building. Overall, the project exemplifies the University’s commitment to sustainable and innovative design.

umass-design-building-2(Students sit inside the new UMass Amherst Design Building. Photo credit: Building and Construction Technology Program at UMass Amherst)

The design provides a centrally located two-story commons for group activities, and is surrounded by studios, classrooms, workshops, and offices. The first floor also contains a large meeting room, fabrication and materials testing shops, dining, classroom and research space. The second and third floors contain studios, classrooms and offices, and a smaller fourth floor contains studios. The two-story commons area features the open zipper truss and large skylight. The program space also includes a material testing lab.

The designers of the project were Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects of Boston, Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects, BVH Integrated Service for Mechanical and Electrical engineering, and Equilibrium Consulting from Vancouver B.C. Canada as the structural designers.

You can read about the construction process in previous posts at A first look at UMass Amherst’s Integrated Design BuildingFirst shipment of wood at UMass Amherst, and Tour of UMass building construction site.

Largest mass timber building in U.S. opens today in Minneapolis

T3, a seven-story wood office building, opened today in Minneapolis. The building, located in the North Loop district, has become the tallest modern wood building in the U.S.

t3-1(T3, the tallest wood building in the U.S. Photo credit: Ema Peter)

T3 stands for Timber, Technology, Transit and was designed by Michael Green Architecture. The 220,000 square foot building features cross-laminated timber (CLT) as well as nail-laminated timber (NLT).

t3-4(The exterior of T3 in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Ema Peter)

StructureCraft fabricated T3’s NLT panels in Winnipeg and was also able to build 180,000 square feet of timber framing in less than 10 weeks. The interior was left bare, which emphasizes the natural timber framing while saving on cost.

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(The interior of T3. Photo credit: Ema Peter)

The CLT and NLT panels were combined with a spruce glue laminated (glulam) post-and-beam frame and a concrete slab. According to The Architects Newspaper, most of the wood used came from the Pacific Northwest region, sustainably harvested after being killed by the mountain pine beetle, and all of the wood was certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Guidelines.

See more photos of the new T3 building below! (Photo credit for all: Ema Peter)

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The Economist and Forbes: Let’s build with wood

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?

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(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)

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(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.

 

Stronger than steel- Building with CLT

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.

Timber City exhibit opens in D.C.

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Testing Mass Timber

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.

Final wood panel installed on Brock Commons

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.

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(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.”

Amsterdam’s plans for a ‘Haute Couture’ building

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.

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(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.

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(Photo credit: Team V Architectuur)

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(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.

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(Photo credit: Team V Architectuur)

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(Photo credit: Team V Architectuur)