Why a Wooden Office Tower May Symbolize the Future of Multi-Story Construction
Curbed National (08/12/15) Sisson, Patrick
The first tall-timber building in the U.S., the seven-story, 210,000-square-foot Timber, Technology and Transit (T3) office building, broke ground at the end of July in Minneapolis, Minn. The new home of the Hines development firm, designed by architect Michael Green, will challenge assumptions about wood structures and represent a technological leap that may be the vanguard of sustainable construction. Green's eponymous Canadian firm built the seven-story Wood Innovation and Design Center in Prince George, British Columbia, currently the tallest timber building in North America. To meet code, the T3 project has a concrete foundation and a steel skeleton, but most of the rest of the structure will be wood sourced from the West Coast. Huge panels of engineered lumber make up the core and floorplates, supported by engineered wood columns. Their density makes them fire-retardant, energy efficient, and insulating. Although many projects are using cross-laminated timber and heavy wood construction, Green is most excited by the recent forestry school expansion at Oregon State University, which is advancing the technology behind timber construction. Building tall-timber buildings in the seismic West Coast or windy Midwest requires unique systems and designs. Builders, regulators, and architects will have to work together to develop and share regional knowledge. "We have a new means of building that can help us realize a new era of architecture, a post-climate era," Green says. "As this develops, we'll see how this changes the look of our cities and buildings."