On September 17th, 2015 the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Softwood Lumber Board and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council, awarded $1.5 million to a winning proposal to support a tall wood demonstration project in Portland, Oregon. The Competition was established to showcase the safe application, practicality and sustainability of a minimum 80-foot tall structure that uses mass timber, composite wood technologies, and innovative building techniques, as well as provide scientific and technical support to encourage and support the design and construction of tall wood projects in the United States.The ultimate goal is to support employment opportunities in rural communities, maintain the health and resiliency of the nation’s forests, and advance sustainability in the built environment.

Image: LEVER Architecture

The winning proposal — Framework — was selected by a panel of distinguished jurors in the architecture and engineering fields who are familiar with innovative wood building systems. The project illustrates the strength, durability, and innovation of mass timber, composite wood technologies, and building systems.


Framework: An Urban + Rural Ecology

Framework is anticipated to be the first tall mass timber building in the U.S. Framework is a 12-story (148’) urban and rural ecological project in Portland, Oregon that will be constructed primarily of cross-laminated timber (CLT). It will support a distinct blend of functions including ground-floor retail, five floors of office space, five floors of affordable housing and a rooftop amenity space. When completed, the total building area will comprise 90,000 square feet.

The building seeks to develop a model for a sustainable urban ecology by promoting social justice, sustainable building, and economic opportunity thus yielding broad advancement of these objectives at a national scale.

Given its prominent location and public visibility, a key element of the building design led by Thomas Robinson, principal of LEVER Architecture, is to communicate at street level the project’s innovative use of wood and engineering technology in the development of a tall wood structure. From a community perspective, this building will support a unique blend of programming including an Albina Community Bank Branch, street level retail, office space for Beneficial State Bank, B Corp businesses and social enterprise; along with public space and workforce housing in partnership with Home Forward.

“We consider Framework to be a totally transformative, mission-driven project that will promote social justice, environmental well-being and economic opportunity at the building, regional and national levels,” said Kat Taylor, President, Beneficial State Bancorp, the landowner of the project site.

“The relationship of our cities to our rural communities, what we call ‘forest to frame,’ is strengthened by Framework,” added Anyeley Hallova, Partner, project^. “On a national scale, this project will be catalytic, leading to more tall wood buildings, driving more wood products and wood product innovation, and boosting rural economic development.”