T3, Minneapolis, MN | Photography courtesy of Ema Peter and wood specialist consultant architecture firm MGA | Michael Green Architecture
Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates Engineer + Build: StructureCraft Builders

The modern workplace is changing. Individual offices and “cubicle farms” are in the rearview mirror. Today, clients in the commercial marketplace are looking for work environments that provide a “palette of places.”

Office workers want flexibility: a mix of collaborative and private work areas—huddle spaces, cafés, standing desks—without feeling tied down to one type of workspace. They also want materials that have a connection to the natural world, acoustic and thermal comfort, and better connections to the outdoors.

The Hudson | Mackenzie Architects | Photo: Christian Columbres; Huddle spaces and standing desks provide opportunities for collaboration and active work spaces.

Wood products come with unique properties that can help developers and designers meet these new demands in the commercial marketplace. That includes meeting the demand for new commercial construction in central business districts and other urban areas, as more businesses seek to locate there.

Wood Construction Offers Business Advantages

Choosing wood as a primary construction material for commercial and office space goes beyond its environmental benefits. Architects and developers can specify wood construction to help them:

  • Maximize value. Wood can help keep a project on budget, as it is a plentiful, flexible material that can be used structurally or in finishes. Even structurally, it can be left exposed and still be visually appealing, reducing finish needs.
  • Stand out from the crowd. In a competitive market, wood construction can help a commercial building stand apart.
  • Lower maintenance and operating costs. When designed in conjunction with best practices for efficiency, wood buildings can be easy to heat and cool.
  • Build safely. Wood offers excellent fire resistance (because thick wood panels tend to char rather than be consumed rapidly by fire) and seismic properties (because of its inherent give and the way it is assembled).
  • Build quickly. The next-generation wood used in tall wood structures is created off site, shipped to the job in prefabricated sections and assembled safely and rapidly.
  • Build tall. With wood products like cross-laminated timber (CLT), nail-laminated timber (NLT), dowel-laminated timber (DLT) and glue-laminated timber (glulam), wood buildings can go taller, which is important in delivering maximum value in high-density urban environments where demand is high.

Learn more about T3.

Located in Minneapolis, the seven-story, 220,000-square-foot Type IV office building, T3, continues the city’s timber tradition with NLT and a frame of glulam columns and beams. The use of prefabricated wood components allowed for a rapid construction timeline, with each 30,000-square-foot floor averaging nine days to build. While weathering steel clads the building’s exterior, its interior is alive with exposed wood that calls to mind the city’s timber history and Minnesota’s natural landscape.

Rents for central business district Class A office space have grown more than 33 percent since 2010. 

JLL Research

Flexible Options for Different Commercial Applications

While some businesses may seek out wood finishes, others have brand standards or preferences for other finishes or cladding materials. Even in these cases, wood offers significant business advantages in terms of reducing costs and time to market. Framing and walls can be built out of wood—delivering the strength, precision and rapid assembly common to the material—and finished to fit client needs. In this way, wood can deliver an advantage from behind the scenes.

Learn more about Candlewood Suites.

Located in Huntsville, Alabama, the new Candlewood Suites hotel features a brick exterior, carpeted floors and gypsum walls. But underneath, the frame and walls are CLT. Three carpenters and eight laborers built the structure in 10 weeks, cutting construction time by 37 percent and labor by 40 percent. Although not seen, the wood offers several benefits: It was made thick enough to meet Army anti-terrorism standards, and it makes the hotel remarkably quiet.

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