Posts tagged with "Mass Timber":

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A timber-topped terraced office tower could be coming to the heart of Hollywood

Plans have been unveiled for a rather snazzy 14-story Hollywood office tower designed by Gensler that will take shape on a 1.7-acre Sunset Boulevard site currently populated by a Staples and a smattering of surface parking lots. Dubbed Sunset + Wilcox, the commercial high-rise would include of 445,158 square feet of office space, with 2,141 square feet carved out for a ground-level restaurant and retail space as well as a substantial amount of space dedicated to parking, some of it subterranean. Compared to a decidedly humdrum 1968 Maxwell Starkman-designed high-rise located directly across Wilcox Avenue at 6430 Sunset Boulevard that’s home to CNN’s West Coast headquarters, Sunset + Wilcox will provide, literally, a breath of architectural fresh air. Each floor of the tower will include outdoor space, with the sixth floor featuring a lushly landscaped outdoor “Campus Commons” spread out over 10,000 square feet. Starting on the seventh floor and moving up, a series of stepped terraces, all connected by an exterior staircase, will provide additional open air space. A mass timber crown—a unique addition to the surrounding skyline—will encase the “penthouse” levels of the building. This largely workaday stretch of Sunset east of Highland Avenue has been on the up-and-up in recent years as the demand for both housing and entertainment industry-earmarked office space in Hollywood proper grows. “With the majority of this underutilized site being surface parking, Sunset + Wilcox provides a tremendous opportunity to further Hollywood’s ongoing transformation into a true live-work neighborhood,” said Mario Palumbo, managing director of Seward Partners, an affiliate of infill-centric developer MP Los Angeles, in a press statement. “Hollywood is world-renowned for its association with the entertainment industry, and the demand for new creative office space in the area is substantial.” Other major projects in the immediate area include a mixed-use megaproject designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and RCH Studios surrounding the Crossroads of the World site, an iconic 1936 outdoor shopping center-turned-office complex encircling a Streamline Moderne building shaped an ocean liner. Once complete, the $1 billion Crossroads Hollywood project, which has been opposed by preservationists since its inception, will include over 900 new housing units, a large hotel, and over 190,000 square feet of commercial space spread across nine new buildings. Most of the original Crossroads of the World complex and the neighboring Hollywood Reporter Building, a Regency Moderne landmark declared as a Historic-Cultural Monument in 2017, will not be razed and instead be incorporated into the new development. Further east along Sunset, is the future home a 26-story residential tower that will replace beloved indie record store Amoeba Music, which has been a fixture on Sunset Boulevard since 2001. The redevelopment scheme has been highly contentious although just last month Amoeba formally announced it will reopen in a new location, also in Hollywood, later this year. Not far from the Sunset + Wilcox site and also developed by MP Los Angeles is Hollywood Center, a “mixed-use vertical community” with a substantial amount of affordable housing. It too has been met with controversy. As Sunset + Wilcox enters the planning stages (per the Real Deal the city will need to green-light several zoning changes before the project commences), it doesn't seem that many objections will be made about demolition work at the site when compared to these other redevelopment projects in the immediate area. “Our goal is to retain existing Hollywood businesses and attract new businesses that have to-date overlooked the area because of a lack of supply,” said Palumbo. “With this large site, we see an opportunity to create a truly exceptional creative office experience in the heart of Hollywood.”
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LEVER Architecture’s Thomas Robinson discusses architecture and engineering in Oregon

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The Pacific Northwest is home to a thriving architecture and design community that is shaping the industry across the country. The upcoming Facades+ AM conference July 21 will highlight notable projects within the state and region; ranging from a diverse spate of recently completed expansions to the University of Oregon campus to the ongoing proliferation of mass timber on the West Coast. Thomas Robinson, founding principal of LEVER Architecture, collaborated with The Architect's Newspaper in the program’s curation as conference co-chair. Participating firms include Allied Works, Ennead Architects, Hacker Architects, Office 52 Architecture, RDH Building Science, the Shildan Group, and Thornton Tomasetti. In anticipation of the conference, AN interviewed Robinson to discuss architectural trends in Oregon and the programming of the morning symposium. AN: We are consistently struck by the quality of work coming out of Portland and the Pacific Northwest. What is driving this emphasis on craftsmanship within Portland's design community, as found in the work of OFFICE 52 and Hacker Architects, and what work is LEVER currently up to? Thomas Robinson: There is a culture of “making” that permeates life in Portland. From the buildings to the culinary scene, people are interested in creating things that add value. Specifically, with respect to architecture, Portland projects have lower construction budgets (compared to San Francisco or New York) and that has pushed architects here to innovate with off-the-shelf systems and regional materials. You must be creative and collaborative to do something really special in the Northwest, and architects here are rising to the challenge. In terms of our own work, we’re currently in design or construction on several institutional projects. We’re building a new LEED Platinum headquarters for Meyer Memorial Trust, one of Oregon’s largest private foundations that is committed to advancing equity. The project has an interesting convening center for collaborations with community partners that is made from a new product called Mass Plywood Panels (MPP). We’re also in design on a major renovation of Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre. They do timely, provocative productions, and this renovation will strengthen their public presence and help them to engage with audiences in new ways. LEVER is leading the way in terms of timber design. What do you perceive to be the most exciting trends in terms of timber structure and cladding, and which aspects of the Nature Conservancy HQ do you plan on highlighting at Facades+ Portland? Designers are starting to think beyond tall wood buildings and beyond cross-laminated timber (CLT). There is so much potential. Right now, we’re doing a major project with a hybrid timber and precast concrete structural system. Hybrid systems are exciting because they make mass timber viable and accessible for projects across the country. Sustainable sourcing of timber for facades or for structures is a major issue as well. The Nature Conservancy Headquarters is an interesting demonstration project because it uses sustainably harvested timber products throughout, including FSC-certified glulams and CLT that were manufactured locally using regional wood. The ground level facade on the building is clad in Juniper, a native species considered invasive when overgrown because it fuels forest fires and negatively impacts Sage-Grouse habitats. The third panel brings together architect and facade consultant for the Knight Campus and the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique. Why is the dialogue between project partners crucial to successful project delivery, and what lessons do you hope are elucidated from the panel? Every consultant has a unique expertise, and it is only when we really engage in dialogue with our engineering, construction, and fabrication partners that innovation emerges. Both the Knight Campus and the U.S. Embassy project have advanced facades with respect to building performance. I am interested to learn more about the research and development that went into those systems and hope there are lessons and technologies that will be relevant to the everyday structures being built in communities. Further information regarding Facades+ Portland can be found here.
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Sidewalk Labs unveils digital model for the world’s tallest timber tower

Sidewalk Labs, the architecture and urbanism spinoff of Google parent company Alphabet, has detailed a new model for designing tall timber towers on their Medium page. The “digital proof-of-concept,” designed in Revit and hosted in BIM 360, is called PMX (proto-model X), and is intended to show how a modular 35-story tower could be designed and built effectively and efficiently using almost exclusively timber. The Sidewalk Labs team went through eight design steps: Addressing site (the decision was to make the design site-agnostic), massing, structure, program, MEP, a passive house–like envelope, Ontario code compliance (likely to speed the process along when implementation in Quayside, Toronto), and ease of manufacture. The structure itself is perhaps what is most interesting about PMX—the design is pretty basic—which also is directly tied to its ability to be modularly fabricated, as well as allowing for the maximum amount of space for tenants. With timber being much lighter than concrete, winds became an issue during testing. The researchers found that because the building was as much as 2.5 times lighter as a traditional structure, lateral forces acted on it more like a typical 40- or 50-story building. However, Sidewalks Lab wanted to avoid a hybrid solution that added steel or concrete. A timber structural core, they reported, would have necessitated walls that were five feet thick. Since this was unfeasible given the difficulty to manufacture and the resultant loss of floor space, Sidewalk Labs instead chose to use a cross-brace frame exoskeleton, like those found on many supertall towers. Since the exoskeleton still left the building fairly susceptible to large swaying motions, the team opted to add a 70-ton steel tuned mass damper at the penthouse level. To create a design that was easy and affordable to manufacture offsite with CNC machines, the Sidewalk Labs team created an interlocking kit of parts, including a “floor cassette” which used wood panels, layers of acoustic padding and insulation, and space for plumbing, electrical, and mechanical infrastructure. To make the cassettes work, Sidewalk Labs designed a standardized grid for columns to plug into, which kept everything standardized for easy construction where sequence order becomes more or less irrelevant. The cassettes also feature stone wool, a fibrous structure of minerals, in place of concrete, and can be built in 25 steps. The envelope is also modular, and the standardized metal panel has 40 percent window coverage and space for a balcony can be slotted into. However, to offer more aesthetic possibilities, each building could also be “skinned” to produce various effects, some of which have been speculatively designed by Gensler, such as a faceted skin of waving forms. What this means for Sidewalk Labs’ contentious Toronto waterfront project, which past renderings included designs from Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studios, was not immediately clear. It may mean revisions to the proposed designs of the taller towers, of which renders were first released back in February 2019. Regardless of whether the research is implemented, the model demonstrates a future for building up with timber, providing more sustainable options than the common carbon-intensive glass and concrete construction. Cara Eckholm, associate director of development at Sidewalk Labs, clarified the divide when asked:
“The renderings in the MIDP were illustrative, and do not represent final project design. Similarly, the images posted in the PMX model blog post are used to demonstrate potential variations using different facade materials.”
For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit https://techplusexpo.com/events/la/
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BIG’s first project in Japan is a high-tech mobility incubator for Toyota

Yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Toyota and BIG unveiled a new concept for a high-tech “Woven City” to be built at the car maker's 175-acre former factory site at the foothills of Mount Fuji, in Japan. “In Higashi-Fuji, Japan, we have decided to build a prototype town of the future where people live, work, play, and participate in a living laboratory,” explained Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda in a press release, going on to say that it would be a “smart city that would allow researchers, engineers, and scientists the opportunity to freely test technology such as autonomy, mobility as a service, personal mobility, robotics, smart home connected technology, AI and more, in a real-world environment.” The automotive company plans to invite private and academic researchers to collaborate on the experiment. To keep it green, the city will use solar power and geothermal energy, along with hydrogen fuel cells. BIG’s buildings—including housing, retail, and office space—will primarily be built with carbon-sequestering mass timber construction, reportedly with a method that combines handcraftsmanship (and a look inspired by the tatami flooring of traditional Japanese architecture) with robotic technology. The streets, also master-planned by BIG would be, as the name suggests, “woven” into three-by-three blocks, framing courtyards interconnected by a linear park. The grid isn’t meant to be rigid; it can flexibly evolve to contain both large parks and denser buildings. Infrastructure would be buried underground, including a “goods delivery network” Toyota and BIG have coined the “matternet.”  The roads will also be organized in threes themselves: A primary thoroughfare for autonomous vehicles, as well as two other streets, one for transit options like bikes and scooters, and a plant-lined option for pedestrians. The logistical traffic would flow underground, carried by Toyota’s driverless e-Palette vehicle. Beyond moving goods and people, Toyota and BIG also imagine the vehicle could be a mobile site for healthcare, retail, and work. “A swarm of different technologies are beginning to radically change how we inhabit and navigate our cities,” said Bjarke Ingels in a press release. “Connected, autonomous, emission-free and shared mobility solutions are bound to unleash a world of opportunities for new forms of urban life.” He added that he hoped that Woven City might serve as a prototype for future infrastructure projects in other parts of the world. Construction on the project is set to begin in 2021.
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Hacker Architects reveals the U.S.'s next largest mass timber office building, in San Francisco

San Francisco is readying itself to house the largest mass timber office building in the United States as part of a 28-acre development on its historic Pier 70. Spearheaded by Brookfield Properties, the six-story, 310,000-square-foot structure will be among the first new buildings, completed over a 10- to- 15-year timeline, to anchor the city's newest waterfront destination.  Designed by Hacker Architects, the 85-foot-tall office building will feature cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor slabs, glulam columns and beams, steel lateral seismic framing, and metal cladding. The Portland-based studio, with its extensive experience in designing wood-heavy projects, is helping Brookfield bring Pier 70 into the 21st century of eco-friendly architecture.  “The Pier 70 office building will make a statement about how mass timber technologies are pushing design and construction towards environmentally sustainable design solutions that better connect the workplace to the natural environment,” said Hacker principal Corey Martin in a statement.  Located along the city’s southern waterfront in the neighborhood of Potrero Point, Pier 70 was once bustling with industrial innovation, serving as home to several steel and ironworks companies, a shipbuilding group, and a small boat builder over its 100-year history. The area was slated for redevelopment over five years ago, and the core historic structures that have long sat on the pier were recently rehabilitated. Last year, Brookfield started work to clean up the site and prep for new construction, hiring Hacker first to envision the timber office space. One of the integral parts of its design, according to Hacker, will be the structure’s airy interior. By mixing up the ceiling heights, adding windows ranging from 14- to 28-feet high, and using 27-inch exposed wood beams, tenants will have access to ample sunlight and feel the warmth of the all-wood construction throughout the day.  The exterior of the project is meant to be much darker in tone than what’s found on the inside and will feature metal paneling that mimics raw weathering steel in reference to Pier 70’s shipbuilding past. Hacker will chamfer the panels and arrange them in alternating directions on each floor, allowing light to reflect off of them in various ways and create a sense of movement across the facade. Above the lobby level, the architecture will cantilever slightly at the corners, adding further motion to the space while living green walls will add to the sense of connection with nature. So far, the office structure is the only project on the Pier 70 site that’s been publicly projected to include mass timber. Little is known about the other upcoming buildings, except that Hacker and Brookfield will again partner to build it out and that sustainable construction is a top priority. Our decision to use mass timber is inspired by the neighborhood’s culture of creativity, sustainability, and strong opinions,” said Cutter MacLeod, the senior manager of development at Brookfield Properties. “By applying emerging technologies and innovative designs to the structures we’re building here, we are reinforcing that Pier 70 will be a thriving place for creative industries in San Francisco.” Over 2,000 residential units (including affordable housing) and 1.75-million-square-feet of commercial space will be built out in the $3.5 billion megaproject, along with nine acres of parks, playgrounds, and public space. Up to 90,000 square feet is slated to house arts-related nonprofits, while 60,000 square feet of the site will be used for local production and small-scale manufacturing.  San Francisco as a whole seems to be headed toward integrating more all-wood buildings. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 1 De Haro, by Perkins + Will and Pfau Long Architecture and set to open in 2020, will be the city’s first mass timber project. At the nearby California College of the Arts, Studio Gang is designing a trio of CLT pavilions as well. Design approvals for the Pier 70 timber office building are currently underway. Construction is expected to start this spring and phase 1 of the entire site is expected to open in 2022. 
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America's largest mass timber building opens at the University of Arkansas

America’s largest mass timber building has opened at the University of Arkansas. Spread across a series of interconnected structures, Adohi Hall is a 202,027-square-foot residential project constructed from cross-laminated timber. Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates led a national design team of heavy hitters for the $79 million project: local practice modus studio, the St. Louis-based Mackey Mitchell Architects, and Philadelphia's OLIN helped bring the sustainable, 708-bed student complex to life. Located on a sloping, four-acre site on the Fayetteville campus’s hilly southern end, Adohi Hall features a nature-centric design with room for classrooms, a community kitchen, lounges, a rooftop terrace, and more.  Linked by a ground-level passage called the “cabin,” the large-scale, dual-volume complex snakes around the linear lot and is configured around three courtyards. As the nation’s first CLT "living learning" setting, Adohi Hall was built for undergraduates but is also targeted for architecture, design, and art students, and features ample programming to reflect that. Throughout the four-story facility, communal areas encourage collaboration while “workshops,” or maker spaces, provide students with the opportunity to rehearse or host performances, record music, or participate in other live/learn events. The design team integrated exposed structural wood throughout the project to remind residents and visitors of the building’s groundbreaking construction. Exposed timber columns, ceilings, and trusses bring a sense of warmth to the interior spaces, while generous light also shines in through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the cabin area and provides views of the surrounding landscape designed by OLIN. The majority of Adohi Hall’s facade, which lightly cantilevers over the first-floor, is less obviously about wood and features zinc-toned paneling with copper and white accents. In a statement, Andrea P. Leers, principal of Leers Weinzapfel, noted the stark contrast between Adohi Hall and the other Collegiate Gothic-style architecture on the university’s campus. She noted that the contemporary residential building is fitting for the site despite its differences, especially given the administration’s commitment to sustainable design. “We drew inspiration from the regional context of the Ozarks, creating a living/learning environment powerful enough to be a destination remote from the center of campus,” said Leers, “and the wood-based construction system we developed forges a bond between setting, human comfort, and sustainability.”  Adohi Hall (adohi meaning woods in Cherokee) was named as a tribute to the tribe members who passed by the site on the Trail of Tears. The area’s long history as a heavily forested region motivated the architects and the university to pursue this ambitious mass timber project. Leers Weinapfel Associates told Architectural Record that they responsibly-sourced European spruce, pine, and fir for the structural components of Adohi Hall, while cypress was selected to outfit the interior.  It makes sense that the University of Arkansas—with its Fay Jones School of Architecture committed to researching and teaching wood-based construction—would be the first school in the country to build a large, CLT-based residential complex. As mass timber manufacturing grows in Arkansas and the surrounding states, it’s a possibility that other Southern institutions will follow Adohi Hall’s lead.
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WholeTrees is smartly repurposing timber across the Midwest

Wisconsin-based design and construction company WholeTrees Structures finds both architectural opportunity and environmental advantage in designing and building with intact tree trunks that would otherwise be used for firewood or pulp. Amelia Baxter and architect Roald Gundersen founded WholeTrees 12 years ago to build new markets for “cull trees,” or trees marked for removal from managed forests. At the time, designers were generally less aware than they are today of the carbon footprint associated with engineered building materials. Intact wood has a lighter environmental impact than engineered wood and a much lighter impact than steel. The company also invests in research and development, generating new technologies and products as part of its business model. As a result, it can cost-effectively grade, engineer, and manufacture small round timber into columns, trusses, beams, and joists. Even in today’s state of climate awareness, WholeTrees is still on the cutting edge of producing unmilled timber for commercial construction with products that are structural, sculptural, and sustainable. Festival Foods Grocery Store

The Festival Foods Grocery Store in Madison, Wisconsin, features WholeTrees’ largest natural round-timber trusses, which facilitate spans of up to 55 feet. The structure showcases the potential of unmilled lumber without compromising strength or visual impact, and the whole timber in combination with steel embodies a junction of nature and technology. The trees that make up the trusses were harvested during the City of Madison’s campaign against the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect lethal to local ash trees, and the standing columns are red pine sourced from just outside of the city.

Lakeridge Junior High School

WholeTrees repurposed 29 trees cleared from the project site as structural members for a new building designed by Mahlum Architects for Lakeridge Junior High School in Lake Oswego, Oregon, a suburb of Portland. The company harnessed a 3D-scanning system known as lidar to create digital models of the trees that included every nub, notch, and scratch. These models ensured each tree met the structural and spatial design parameters of the project. The 3D files created through this process can be shared with engineers and architects, allowing building professionals to confidently fabricate and specify related products, and architects to precisely visualize the organic material in their designs.

Blakely Elementary School

WholeTrees’ first project in Washington State developed a new steel connection to help meet the seismic requirements of the region. WholeTrees harvested, processed, and delivered 14 straight and branched tree columns rising up to 25 feet tall for a school on Bainbridge Island, outside Seattle, which was designed in collaboration with Seattle-based architecture firm Mithun. Blakely was the first project to adapt WholeTrees’ explorations into 3D-scanning technology for every column in a built project. The technology allowed the company to scan trees in its storage lot and share the resulting information directly with engineers and architects.

Maharishi University Sustainable Living Center

Located in Fairfield, Iowa, Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living Center was required to comply with the International Living Building Challenge’s mandate to use materials sourced within 300 miles of the project site. WholeTrees delivered 22 columns, 24 beams, and 2 structural arches harvested from managed woodlands in southwestern Wisconsin. Realized with sustainability-focused architecture practice Innovative Design, the project exceeded the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum standard. The building’s entrance features a narrow corridor of massive but slender trunks, which creates the sensation of being among trees while still being inside.

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Sidewalk Labs unveils full Toronto waterfront master plan that's a timber-topia

The smart city is the king of go-to solutions for the problems that bedevil urban areas. At the moment, the concept—tech innovates those problems away!—is trending hard in Toronto thanks to the work of Sidewalk Labs, the Alphabet-owned company that dove face first into urban design a few years ago with a plan for a lakefront district in Ontario's capital. Now, that plan is a completed master plan, the foreground to any large development. The public got its first look at Sidewalk Labs' new neighborhoods yesterday when the company released a full run through of their finalized plans. Unlike New York's super-sleek Hudson Yards, a comparable "big development," there will be a forest's worth of wood buildings in this project.  The digital doorstopper runs 1,500 pages and is available here, but the basic premise is two new mega-developments, with the potential for more, will be built mostly from mass timber and kitted out with sensors and data collectors that will, its authors contend, make life more pleasant for Torontonians by providing affordable housing, non-car transit options, jobs, and economic development. The company will, for a substantial investment and cut of the profits, develop real estate, finance transit networks, provide management services to government, and deliver what it calls "advanced systems," the whiz-bang infrastructure that supports the building of Quayside and Villiers West. The computerized promise of better services has garnered a lot of attention. Trash-sweeping robots would displace nifty nabber trash grabbers. Sensors embedded in crosswalks could, for example, keep the walk sign on until a pedestrian is safely on the opposite curve. Google's business model relies on pawning off data advertisers, but in a media briefing, Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff claimed that the very valuable data Sidewalk Labs collects will be underpinned by the "strongest data and privacy regime for any urban data in the world." That protection was certainly absent for Google Nest Cam users, and government officials still have concerns over whether the company's policies will align with Canadian data security laws. Data gleaned in Toronto, Doctoroff noted, will be stored in a data bank and won't be shared with third parties without users' "explicit consent." While it's too soon to tell how that promise shakes out, there's plenty of information on the smart city's design and construction. Unlike 20th-century glass-and-steel corporate modernism that projected power and influence, Sidewalk Labs is turning to mass timber for 12 major buildings in the Quayside portion of the development. The showcase here is both structures by London's Heatherwick Studios, the eminent go-to firm for megadevelopers, and an $80 million vertical timber supply chain for those buildings that will extend from forests to an Ontario factory to fashionable city blocks. Doctoroff said his company is working with the Toronto buildings department to amend rules that cap timber building heights at six stories in order to build up to 30 stories tall. The developments will feature a standard of mixed-use towers, but about 70 percent of the project will be devoted to housing. Of these units, about 40 percent, or 1,700 units, will be rented below-market. "We expect to make money the way a normal real estate company would," said Doctoroff. Sidewalk Labs is investing over $680 million in what is projected to be a $2.9 billion development.  The credits list New York's Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) and Heatherwick Studio as the teams responsible for the master plan sketches and renderings, but Doctoroff said Canadian firms would be behind most of the projects to come. Along with Stantec, BBB gets top billing for design and engineering services, while Snøhetta who were tapped for design services back in February, is credited alongside Heatherwick and dozens of other firms for research and development.
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First dowel-laminated timber building in the U.S. set to open in Des Moines

A four-story mixed-use structure in Des Moines, Iowa, will be the first building in the U.S. to be constructed with dowel-laminated timber, an all-wood mass timber product that is held together without nails, glue, or fasteners and can be assembled with friction-fit wood connectors. Designed by Neumann Monson Architects, the 65,000-square-foot building, which houses shops, restaurants, and offices, is made from pre-fabricated 8'x20' DowelLam panels by StructureCraft, along with spruce glulam beams and columns, and precast concrete. DowelLam can reportedly be created in an array of custom profiles and is easily handled by CNC equipment. The architects reported that working with the easy-fit prefab panels allowed for faster construction with fewer workers. Not just structural elements, the panels will also remain exposed on the building in order to contribute to its overall aesthetic. In addition, the architects estimated that the timber construction “sequestered” around 280 tons of carbon and doesn’t run the risk of “off-gassing” chemicals like other glue-based mass timber products like CLT. Mass timber has been featured prominently in new construction as people are searching for alternatives to steel and concrete, with proponents touting its environmental benefits, among other positives. For example, Foster + Partners' sprawling plans for a new Silicon Valley neighborhood integrate mass timber throughout the site. People have been building bigger with it as well. This year a 280-foot-tall Norwegian tower claimed the title of world's tallest mass-timber structure. Mass plywood panels, another mass timber technology, were also recently approved for use in buildings as tall as 18 stories. StructureCraft reported other projects in North America are also putting the dowel-laminated product to use, including the Lake|Flato–designed Center for Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and a regional airport in British Columbia.
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Related taps Foster + Partners for new neighborhood in Silicon Valley

The Related Companies is bringing its vision of a ground-up, architecturally unified neighborhood to the West Coast, and has tapped Foster + Partners to design and master plan the 9.2-million-square-foot, 240-acre first phase of an $8 billion development in Santa Clara, California. Santa Clara sits in the heart of Silicon Valley, abutted by San Jose, Mountain View, and Cupertino, where Google, Apple, and other tech titans are headquartered, and Related is banking on the need for offices, hotels, and apartments in the area. The unnamed development is the result of a public-private partnership between the city of Santa Clara and Related to transform a golf course into a mixed-use hub. The plan includes 5.4-million-square feet of new office space; 1,280 new apartment units, 170 of which will be affordable, and 400 “extended stay” apartments with amenities; an Equinox hotel (Related owns Equinox) and a 440-room business hotel; and 1-million-square-feet of retail and restaurants. In future phases, Related has also blocked out up to 4-million-square-feet of space for a potential corporate campus on the site’s eastern end. Foster + Partners is responsible for the site’s master plan and the design of the project’s first phase, with Gensler serving as the executive architect. The development is being pitched as extremely walkable and environmentally conscious, and indeed, the neighborhood is sited with links to Caltrain and BART, the Capitol Corridor Amtrak route, and VTA bus and rail lines. The project also neighbors the extant Levi’s Stadium and the convention center. From the renderings, it seems that Foster + Partners is leaning heavily on timber, as the arched trusses and swooping canopy of the "Global Food Market," the “loft offices,” and other buildings prominently integrate mass timber. A 30-acre public park, of which Related will kick in $5 million towards the construction of, and numerous hiking and biking trails have also been planned. The project was first announced in 2013 and has been working its way through public feedback and the city approval process ever since. As such, site work can begin immediately, and Related expects vertical construction to begin early next year. The development’s first phase is expected to open in 2023.
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Mjøstårnet by Voll Arkitekter is the now the world's tallest timber tower

A Nordic structure has claimed the title of world’s tallest timber building. Mjøstårnet by Voll Arkitekter is a 280-foot-tall tower in Brumunddal, Norway, constructed entirely out of cross-laminated timber. It’s the third tallest building in the country and features 18 stories of office space, apartments, a hotel, a ground-floor restaurant, and an adjoining public bath. Designed like a monumental wooden box planted atop Brumunddal’s open, lakeside landscape, Mjøstårnet stands as a symbol of the “green shift.” It’s all wood—even it’s elevators are built from CLT and its large-scale interior trusses, as well as the structural columns, are glulam. The architects used local-sourced materials crafted from local suppliers to build the soaring structure, which features a series of wooden fins on its western facade and an open-air rooftop with a sculptural timber topper. Scandinavian company Moelven Limtre, owner of 17 sawmills in Norway and Sweden, supplied the wood and served as the Mjøstårnet’s structural engineer. The mixed-use project is owned by AB Invest, a Jordanian investment group, and beats out Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia by 90 feet. Though the Vancouver-based student housing project also stretches 18 stories high and is actually larger than Mjøstårnet in overall square feet, the Nordic building bests it in height. Last week, 3XN released renderings for what will soon become North America’s tallest mass timber office building, T3 Bayside. Imagined for Toronto’s burgeoning waterfront community, it’s slated to rise just 138 feet.
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World's first mass plywood panel approved for 18-story buildings

Located in Lyons, Oregon, Freres Lumber has been in business for nearly a century. After starting out producing standard lumber projects, the company moved into wood veneers some 60 years ago and in 1998 purchased a plywood plant. Now, it's made another step: getting U.S. and Canadian patents on its mass plywood panel (MPP), the first veneer-based mass timber panel in the world, and fire approvals to build up to 18 stories high with the panel. The mass plywood panel has already been put to the test on a smaller scale—this past year Freres worked with design-build startup BuildHouse to construct an A-frame house with the panel in Snoqualmie, Washington. The company has also seen its product used in larger projects. Oregon State University’s new Peavy Hall, a forestry science center designed by Michael Green Architecture (a Katerra partner), featured Freres Lumber’s product on the roof, while the nearby A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory shows off the panels on its interior and exterior walls. Both buildings are part of OSU’s forestry complex, which is designed to display an array of new mass timber technologies. Freres also maintains a relationship with the TallWood Design Institute, a partnership between OSU and the University of Oregon, working with the institute to test its products. The company claims that MPPs have a number of benefits when compared to the cross-laminated timber products that have taken off in recent years—it was a CLT product that collapsed this past summer in the Peavy Hall Project, not Freres’s. Freres noted that MPPs offer better structural support and design flexibility. CLT can only be built out in orthogonal layers and is generally confined to standard lumber dimensions and shapes, whereas MPPs have greater flexibility in form and dimension (the panels and their thin veneer layers can be very small, but they can also scale up to as much as 48 feet long and 1 foot thick), giving designers and builders a greater range to work and experiment with. Prefab plywood panels are also an option, but they can easily be cut by a CNC machine to spec. Mass plywood panels also use less material; they take 20 percent less wood fiber to meet the same structural specifications as CLT. They're also more eco-friendly in terms of what trees they can use. MPP can be built with smaller diameter trees, as small as 5.5 inches, though normally trees with 9-inch diameters are used. Using small trees means relying on second-growth trees, like local Oregon Douglas fir, and ones that are likely to be “choked out” under the shadow of larger growth.  Things are getting easier, according to Freres, and while he pointed out that the “mass timber movement is so new,” many projects and possibilities are on the horizon for MPP, including tornado-resistant structures, highway barriers, as well as buildings both tall and small. “People are constantly coming up with new ideas and new ways to use this material,” said Freres, “[mass timber] is going to be an enormous benefit to the construction industry going forward.”