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.

 

Forest to Frame

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.

NEFF to investigate new uses for New England wood products

LITTLETON, May 18, 2016- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service has awarded a Wood Innovations Grant to New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) in Littleton, MA to analyze the potential for manufacturing engineered wood products in New England. The study will set the stage for expanded local production of wood products that are being used to revolutionize construction around the world.

Wood construction can be an important strategy in mitigating climate change and could also reduce construction costs, all while revitalizing New England forests. A 2015 study by Yale University professor Chadwick Oliver and colleagues found that using more sustainably produced wood in construction could reduce global carbon emissions by up to 31 percent.

“Renewable products like wood from New England forests are crucial to a sustainable future for our region,” said Monty Lovejoy, a member of NEFF’s Board of Directors and chairman of its Build It With Wood committee.

NEFF will use the USDA funding to analyze demand for engineered wood products and the suitability of local wood for use in such products. The grant will also identify the potential return on investment associated with the development of a mill. This investment analysis would inform public and private initiatives aimed at fostering construction of such a mill, which could then serve to reduce the cost of wood construction in major Northeast markets such as Boston or New York, while simultaneously improving forest health in the region’s abundant woodlands.

Of the 42 Wood Innovations Grants issued, NEFF was the sole recipient in Massachusetts and one of only four in New England. Grants are awarded to projects focused on expanding markets for wood products and wood energy.

The analysis funded by the grant is part of NEFF’s Build It With Wood project. Build It With Wood aims to expand the use of wood building materials in long-lasting infrastructure and increase the use of renewable and sustainable wood products. “We see Build It With Wood as a crucial part of our region’s response to a diverse set of challenges— declining forest health, a need for more affordable housing, and the ever present challenge of climate change,” said NEFF Executive Director Bob Perschel. “This grant is a key step forward.”

Founded in 1944, NEFF pursues innovative programs to advance conservation and forestry throughout New England. Through private ownership and partnership with land owners, NEFF has conserved more than 1.1 million acres of forest, including one out of every three acres of forestland protected in New England since 1999. For more information, please call 978.952.6856 or visit newenglandforestry.org.

Global forests, sustainability, and the built environment

Trees are an essential part of a sustainable future, a future which includes more wood buildings in our world’s cities.

In “The Argument for Wood in the Built Environment,” Chris Carbone of Bensonwood argues in favor of sustainably harvest wood that can be turned in timber, eventually being used to build wood structures. He explains that people have been using wood as a building material for thousands of years and now understand wood’s structural abilities ever better. With some exceptions, he claims that we now have “…the knowledge and ability to construct most of our buildings nearly completely out of wood.”

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(The Schachinger Logistics Center in Linz, Austria. Photo credit: Walter Ebenhofer)

 

The article goes on to say that “wood substitutes for other construction materials can save up to 31% of global CO2 emissions.” If this is the case, Carbone argues that we are morally obligated to use more wood while creating the world’s built environment.

Read the whole article at BUILDER Online and let us know your thoughts.

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.

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(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.”

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(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.