25 floors, all lumber, Credit: KORB + ASSOCIATES
Technological developments in materials, science, and engineering have produced a versatile new material that has the world of architecture, construction, and sustainability buzzing with excitement. Known as “wood,” (pronounced with a short vowel, like good, but not mood), the material is naturally occurring, fibrous, and organic, and can be sustainably grown and harvested in the form of trees then used for an infinite variety of construction purposes.
Ok… people have been using wood and timber to build things since before they invented writing. So why all the recent hubbub? Well, the excitement is specifically around mass timber, a term that covers a range of engineered wood composites like cross-laminated timber (CLT). CLT is made by gluing together crossed layers of kiln-dried boards. The resulting slab can match or exceed the performance of concrete and steel (even while being lighter in weight), with a substantially smaller carbon footprint. It can also be cheaper and will become even more so as manufacturing facilities continue to open. 18 such facilities have opened in the US and Canada alone since 2014.
Credit: Arch Daily
What types of buildings can mass timber be used for? The sky’s the limit... An eight-story office building in Charlottesville, VA. A 20-story hotel and cultural center in Sweden. A 25-story residential-retail complex in Milwaukee, WI (that one needed a variance, as it’s well beyond the maximum height for a wood structure permitted by code). There are plans for a 70-story wood tower in Tokyo and an 80-story wood skyscraper in London. These are stunning feats of engineering, no doubt. But where mass timber really shines is in low and mid-rise development, where it’s cheaper and faster than concrete and, based on its recent boom in usage rates, is quickly become a favorite among developers, too.
Credit: Bjarke Ingels Group
NYC-based developers Fetner Properties and the Lions Group have proposed to develop a 44-story mixed-use building on the site of the former Landing in Downtown Jacksonville, beside the planned Perkins & Will-designed 7-acre park.So... thoughts? (On the building, not the sculpture.)
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