How to Design Commercially Viable Mass Timber Buildings

ArchitectChats‘ Timber on the Rise series highlights innovations and innovators in wood design and construction.

T3 mass timber building in Atlanta rendering

Art Carrillo/Carrillo Photo Stephen Cavanaugh, AIA

Photo: Art Carrillo/Carrillo
Stephen Cavanaugh, AIA

Across the country, the building industry has taken note of the growing interest in mass-timber structures. Aesthetics, sustainability, and construction efficiency are among the reasons commonly cited for its appeal. But designing with wood is relatively new to the modern commercial market in the United States. The uncertainty, and thus risk, can deter developers and building owners from undertaking such projects.

One property owner that has figured out how to execute mass timber, mid-rise construction projects on the commercial scale is the global real estate, development, and management firm Hines, whose portfolio includes a series of wood structures dubbed as T3 (timber, technology, and transit). Hines’ 220,000-square-foot T3 North Loop building in Minneapolis, for example, is the largest mass timber building constructed in recent U.S. history. In Atlanta, construction on Hines’ seven-story T3 West Midtown is now underway.

Besides sharing a common developer, these projects also share a common architect-of-record: international firm DLR Group. In this episode, ARCHITECT speaks with DLR Group principal Stephen Cavanaugh, AIA, the Chicago-based architect leading the timber design team for the two extant T3 iterations—and potentially more projects to come.


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