It's Going Down, We're Yelling Timber

Construction on Framework, the tallest timber tower in the U.S., has stalled

In Construction Sustainability West
Portland's Framework, designed by LEVER Architecture, was set to be the largest cross-laminated construction in the U.S. (Courtesy LEVER Architecture)

Disappointing news has come out of the woodwork this week: plans for the tallest timber building in North America have been shelved.

Framework, a 12-story structure planned for downtown Portland, Oregondesigned by LEVER Architecture, was set to begin construction after receiving a building permit and a $6 million investment from the City of Portland to include 60 units of affordable housing. The developer, project^, said that inflation, escalating construction costs, and fluctuations in the tax credit market are to blame for the sudden hold. Despite massive investment, the project still had not met it’s $29 million fundraising goal as of Monday.

The tower was on track to break records as the largest single use of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) in the U.S., and would have set an example for possibilities in timber structures. It would surpass the already-built Carbon12an eight-story, mass timber building also in Portland. The research and planning that went into crafting the design for Framework were considered by many to be revolutionary in the field.

Anyeley Hallova, a developer with the project, acknowledged the extensive work and collaboration the Framework team has undertaken with both private entities and public agencies since the design process began in 2014.

“Although beset with market challenges beyond our control, we are very proud of Framework’s achievements and the new standards we’ve established for the use of CLT in the U.S.,” Hallova said in a statement.

The project was also expected to be a building block for the revival of the state’s rural timber industry. Recent political attention has surfaced on the topic as Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley pushed for a half a million dollar grant last week to be awarded to Oregon State University to study the durability of CLT. The team behind Framework was also able to advance research through a $1.5 million award which it won in the 2015 U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

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