2022 Timber Trends: The Year Ahead

If 2021 was a year of labor, supply chain, and pandemic-related disruptions, 2022 will be a year to gain new traction on the pressing issues shaping our approach to the built environment.

In January 2022, Think Wood surveyed 500 architects, developers, engineers, and contractors who provided their take on the emerging trends in design and construction this year.

Here’s a sneak peak at the top five trends and projects leading the charge.

Low Carbon Construction
Cutting Carbon with Mass Timber and Passive House Design

To lower a building’s carbon footprint, an increasing number of design teams are turning to timber because it is less carbon-intensive than other structural materials. Such is the case with Terra at 11 E Lenox Street, a 7-story, 34-unit multifamily project in Boston, MA, that combines the thermal benefits of mass timber construction and Passive House design to create an incredibly energy-efficient and low carbon building.

According to project architect Monte French Design Studio (MFDS), this winning combo helps cut operational energy consumption with a mix of passive and active systems and the use of eco-friendly materials—including mass timber. As a result, the project team curbed energy use by more than 80%, earning PHIUS+ PreCertification.

The building’s wood structural system will store 844 tons of CO2 throughout the building lifecycle and offset 327 tons of CO2 when compared to conventional steel or concrete alternatives. 11 E Lenox Street is expected to be completed later this year.

11 E Lenox
Photo credit: Monte French Design Studio
Affordable Housing
Boosting Affordability with Factory-Built Wood Construction

In the Greater Seattle area, design firms Mithun and Aspect Structural Engineers have been working with non-profit Forterra on the development of a Modular CLT Prototype for multifamily construction with planned deployment on sites across Western Washington and nationally. The project achieves its cost-cutting, time-saving volumetric factory production by leveraging integrated and multidisciplinary design for its architectural, structural, MEP, fire and acoustic solutions. The prototype is comprised of three prefabricated modules to create a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit measuring approximately 1,165 square feet. The design allows for units to be stacked up to seven stories. Four all-CLT large-scale multifamily modular projects using this prototype are currently underway.

Modular CLT Prototype
Photo credit: Mithun
Prefabricated construction technology innovation is pivotal in addressing the compounding crisis of climate change and housing shortages. Now more than ever, clients are asking, ‘What does it take to go modular?’
Forterra Modular CLT Prototype

The modules will be fabricated at the Darrington Wood Innovation Center (DWIC), a 94-acre campus that will house the next generation of high-tech wood product companies.

Designed by Mithun, the first phase of DWIC includes a small high-efficiency sawmill and kiln facility; a CLT and glulam manufacturing plant; and the modular fabrication and assembly facility.

Modular CLT Prototype
Photo credit: Mithun
Prefab + Modular Construction
Merits of Modular: Increase Efficiency While Reducing Impact

Brooklyn-based firm Garrison Architects turned to factory-built timber construction for their recently completed boutique hotel and spa,The Piaule Landscape Retreat, located on a remote 50-acre site in the Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York State.

Twenty-four prefabricated wooden units are perched on stilts surrounding a sleek, modern central timber lodge. The units’ floor-to-ceiling windows slide open to reveal the sights, sounds, and sensations of the natural surroundings. The elevated standalone modules vary in size from 375 to 975 square feet. Prefabricated modules can not only reduce onsite construction but also limit environmental impact on remote locations like the Catskills.

Accessed via a quiet, tree-lined road, the lodge features cedar cladding, a butterfly wooden roof, and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide vistas of the surrounding mountains.

Interiors are constructed from locally-sourced materials to enhance the feeling of bringing the outdoors in; walls and ceilings are paneled with cedar and white oak.

The Piaule Landscape Retreat
Photo credit: Sean Davidson
Mass Timber
Mass Timber Moves Mainstream

One sign that mass timber is becoming mainstream is its wider adoption by an increasing number of influential Fortune 500 companies. From Google and Microsoft, to Adidas and McDonald’s, big brands are using mass timber to construct a growing number of corporate facilities. This includes retail giant Walmart whose new corporate campus is currently the largest mass timber corporate campus project under construction worldwide by square footage, and is set to use 1.7 million cubic feet of regionally-sourced lumber for the structures.

Mass timber will help institutional investors work closer to their ESG goals and modular construction will allow developers to try to mitigate labor issues in construction.
Survey Respondent
2022 Timber Trends Survey

Dispersed over 350 acres of native seeded greenery and 10 acres of lakes, Walmart’s new Home Office will be comprised of more than 2 million square feet of mass timber construction spread over 11 office buildings.

To supply the project, Canadian-based Structurlam opened a manufacturing facility in Conway, Arkansas in 2021. The new home office campus is anticipated to open in phases through 2025.

Walmart Home Office
Photo credit: Gensler
Hybrid Construction
Game Changer for Stadium Design

The recently completed Idaho Central Credit Union Arena at the University of Idaho is one example of creative ingenuity with hybrid timber construction. The stadium’s undulating roof, engineered and built by StructureCraft, is constructed from a doubly curved plywood diaphragm supported by hybrid glulam timber/steel trusses, carefully proportioned for both aesthetics and structural efficiency. The king post trusses span over 150 feet across the main arena and the timber/steel portal frame spans 120 feet to allow for viewing from the secondary seating.

Prefabrication and preassembly on-site streamlined construction and enhanced safety by reducing the amount of work required at extreme heights. Complex timber engineering was required to design the thrust connection between beam and column, effectively transferring over 450,000 pounds of compression.

With the use of new wood and connector systems technology, clear-span mass timber construction for sports and recreational facilities like this is becoming a competitive alternative to conventional concrete and steel techniques. The overall result is a warm yet awe-inspiring experience for both spectators and athletes.

Idaho Central Credit Union Arena
Photo credit: Courtesy of the University of Idaho | © LARA SWIMMER PHOTOGRAPHY

Get the full report and survey results.

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