C+S April 2020 Vol. 6 Issue 4 (web)

The Timber Revolution: A Guide By Holly Lennihan, RA, LEED AP and Thomas Corrado, LEED AP It’s no secret that buildings are a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. For years now, architects, engineers, and the design com- munity as a whole have taken measures to reduce the industry’s impact on climate change, fervently pursuing innovative solutions that could help remedy – if not reverse – the damage. Enter: the resurgence of wood construction, now in the form of mass timber. Mass timber is a readily renewable construction material that sequesters carbon from the atmosphere for the lifetime of its usage. Its sustainable qualities combined with its aesthetic appeal and structural capabilities have captured the attention of American architects such that over 220 projects in the country currently feature mass timber – and the number of opportunities is expected to rise. Heightened awareness of climate issues, government mandates, and a consumer demand for environ- mentally conscious options have driven an increased exploration of materials like mass timber that will not only address sustainability concerns, but help aesthetically differentiate properties as well. At Hickok Cole, we’ve spent the past three years working internally and alongside industry partners, including Arup, DPR Construction, and Davis Construction, to learn as much as we can about the oppor- tunities, challenges, and capabilities of building with mass timber. To help prepare for the inevitable mainstreaming of mass timber, we’ve pulled together a primer to share a few things you should know: Marketplace Perception Currently, much of mass timber is manufactured in Europe, Canada, or the West Coast which can translate to longer lead times for projects in the United States, specifically those on the East Coast. Fortunately, these lead times can be offset by the speed of mass timber construction. Unlike with concrete or steel, mass timber can be assembled with a much smaller team in much less time – sometimes within the course of a few weeks. Another challenge that comes with importing mass timber is the sub- sequent increase in cost, making the decision to use mass timber over its more competitively priced counterparts a difficult one. Positioning mass timber as a differentiator within a competitive marketplace has been a successful strategy for increasing its use. In Washington, D.C., for example, the material is perceived by buyers as a unique aesthetic advantage, allowing for owners to offset the material cost by charging a premium on rent. Addressing Codes & Safety Precautions Stick built systems fell out of fashion following the industrial era when fires ravaged much of Chicago and San Francisco. Even with the

SE corner showcases new tenant terrace and roof canopy

technological advances of today, a cautionary approach remains sur- rounding the construction of large, commercial buildings out of wood. As with many forms of technology in their infancy, there is a limited amount of tested product available from which to base findings from, identify challenges, or point to solutions. In order to address these kinds of barriers to entry, it’s crucial to get to know the local officials and open a dialogue well in advance around the regulations and restric- tions that surround mass timber construction. Resources In addition to local officials, there are several resources available online that have proved helpful for our design teams. From advocacy groups like Wood Works and the American Wood Council to mass timber sup- pliers themselves, these organizations provide helpful guidelines for getting started. Connecting with like-minded firms within the industry can also prove very helpful for sourcing supplemental information. Consider reaching out to past partners or clients to ensure that all aspects of design and construction have been thoughtfully considered. Assembling a strate- gic team that includes engineers, builders, and designers is not only efficient but cost effective. It allows each team member to investigate their own area of expertise, strengthening the group’s collective knowl- edge and creating a web of mass timber advocates within the industry. The Planet Finally, and of utmost importance, is the sustainability component of this story. In cities like Washington, D.C., buildings can contribute over 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions produced. Identifying in- novative solutions to decrease the built environment’s carbon footprint is of paramount importance and it is crucial that the design community leverage their knowledge of mass timber to propel the movement forward. Case Study: CLT Goes to Washington Washington, DC-based architecture firm, Hickok Cole anticipated the mass timber trend and sought to mainstream the material within the local marketplace. Focusing on Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) – a type of mass timber consisting of several boards stacked and glued together in alternating directions – the team partnered with Arup and


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