Wood Design + Performance

Raising heights and eyebrows.

Wood performance holds up. Its proven safety, versatility, and natural beauty is why durable wood is used in many types of buildings, from single family homes to condominiums, multi-story offices, schools, industrial facilities, recreational centers, and arenas.

OneNorth Radiator building exterior
One North Radiator
Photo: Josh Partee Photography


Meet code. Exceed expectations.

Today’s building codes are designed to improve fire resistance and protect life safety, regardless of building material.

Wood buildings are designed to meet the same level of fire performance as buildings made from alternative materials.

Mass timber and steel beams in Kern Center
The R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College
Photo: Robert Benson Photography | Bruner/Cott & Associates
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Recognized by the International Building Code®

Wood’s safety and performance is recognized by the International Building Code® (IBC), which allows six stories of wood construction under the 2018 code and is set to increase to up to 18 stories tall in 2021, when making use of mass timber construction.

Illustration for different heights in wooden buildings
Cross-Laminated Timber Fire Test
Fire Station 76 exterior and fire truck

Tests by the American Wood Council and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, demonstrated it is possible to build a cross-laminated timber (CLT) building that exceeds code requirements for fire performance, even when timber is left exposed.


Wood’ya look at that?

Valued for its beauty, strength, flexibility, and practicality, wood offers endless possibilities in architecture and design.

It can be a load-bearing structure, a finish material, or an exterior cladding that stands up to the elements. In all cases, it conveys natural warmth and sophistication. Because of wood’s long history of proven structural and fire performance, it is used not only in 90 percent of all U.S. home construction, but also in some of today’s most innovative commercial and multifamily architecture.

Construction crew assembling Arbora
Photo: Courtesy Nordic Structures | Lemay + CHA (Phase 1) | Provencher Roy (Phase 2 and 3)
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Alex Holser architect portrait

Have a brain for grain? Learn what it takes to turn renderings into reality in this podcast episode with Alex Holser of Opsis Architecture.


Green energy, literally.

Wood-frame construction is thermally efficient because of wood’s lower conductivity compared to concrete, steel-frame, and masonry.

Unlike concrete and steel, wood has natural insulating qualities, and does not need a thermal break between the structural and exterior envelope.  Precisely manufactured assemblies like prefabricated light-frame walls and CLT panels provide thermal mass, and can help building envelopes achieve superior air tightness.

An illustration of a wooden building envelope


Putting down roots.

Years of research and building code development demonstrated that light frame and mass timber buildings can meet or exceed seismic construction requirements.

Forces in an earthquake are proportional to a structure’s weight, and wood as a building material is substantially lighter than steel or concrete. Wood buildings tend to have numerous nail or other metal connections, meaning they have more load paths, so there is less chance the structure will collapse should some connections fail.

Light-frame and mass timber buildings can be designed to resist high winds.
Brock Commons tall wood mass timber construction site

Wood’s elastic limit and strength are higher when loads are applied for a short time, which tends to be the case in high wind events. Diaphragms and shear walls constructed of wood can offer strong wind resistance. Want to learn more about wood’s resilience?

Think Wood Support

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