Over the past several years, a number of tall wood projects have been completed around the world, demonstrating successful applications of new wood and mass timber technologies.

By 2050 the world’s population will see an additional 2.5 Billion people move to cities (Source: United Nations). North American cities are already booming due to urbanization, and architects, developers and planners are being tasked with accommodating the increasing demand for spaces to work, learn, live and play.

Urban sprawl is not usually an optimal solution, so it’s critical that cities build up rather than out.

For this pace of growth and development to be sustainable, it’s essential that we rethink environmentally taxing traditional steel and concrete structures, and look to wood innovations that offer options for taller structures that are high-performing and renewable to meet the coming demand.

Wood is a competitive option for tall buildings because it allows for:

  • Faster and safer on-site construction. Prefabricated sections can be manufactured off site, shipped to the project and then assembled on site, significantly shortening project timelines and improving safety and accuracy.
  • Tight envelopes. Mass timber components are fabricated with high levels of precision to ensure a tight fit. Together with wood’s natural insulating properties, mass timber construction offers strong thermal performance, which is critical for tall buildings.
  • Excellent fire resistance. Large wood slabs char on the outside, protecting their inner structure, which is essential to occupant and first-responder safety in wood buildings, particularly those with multiple stories, during a fire event.
  • Structural and seismic performance. Wood’s strength-to-weight ratio is competitive with steel, but it weighs considerably less, reducing the load on the foundation during seismic events and making for a resilient and safe structure.
  • Efficient footprints. Wood structural systems have high building-volume-to-surface-area ratios, allowing for spacious interiors even with space constraints that typically require tall, compact designs.

With rising demand for new urban buildings, a ready labor force for mass timber production and increased interest in sustainable and efficient construction, the potential for tall wood buildings is expected to only grow.

Think Wood - Tall Wood Building Poster

Tall Wood buildings around the world. Download the poster here.

Case Study: Brock Commons; Vancouver, BC

Brock Commons Tallwood House is an innovative 18 storey tall wood hybrid building at the University of British Columbia that was completed less than 70 days after the prefabricated components arrived on site. The building includes 17-storeys of CLT floors supported on glue laminated timber columns atop a concrete base. In addition, an extensive CLT canopy runs the length of the building which has a gross area of 15,120 m2/162,750 ft2. Read more.

Courtesy of Acton Ostry Architects Inc. & University of British Columbia

Case Study: T3; Minneapolis, Minnesota

The seven-story T3 building in Minneapolis, a mass timber commercial structure, uses NLT panels and glulam beams and columns throughout, requiring no code exemptions. The end result has been widely praised for its beauty and sustainable construction. Economical to build and a draw for highly desirable tenants, including Amazon, it promises to inspire more buildings like it. Read more.

Check out more from our project gallery here.

Architecture: MGA + DLR Group | Photography courtesy of Ema Peter and wood specialist consultant architecture firm MGA | Michael Green Architecture.

Tall Wood Survey Report

Over the past several years, a number of tall wood projects have been completed around the world, demonstrating successful applications of new wood and mass timber technologies. FII and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council engaged Perkins + Will to look at ten international tall wood buildings, and presents some common lessons learned from the experiences of various stakeholders, including the Developer/Owner, Design Team, Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), and Construction Team for each project.

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