- A Texas-based high-rise developer, Hines Interests, has unveiled its plans for an all-wood mid-rise office building in Chicago on the site of a former lumberyard, according to Crain's Chicago Business.
- The proposed building is expected to be similar to another Hines Interests project, the seven-story, all-wood T3 office building in Minneapolis — currently the largest contemporary wood building in the U.S.
- The office building is planned for Chicago's primarily industrial Goose Island as one of the first projects in an expected wave of new development there.
If the project comes to fruition, it could one day be joined by the all-wood skyscraper proposed by architecture firm Perkins+Will for a site along the Chicago River. The project, dubbed River Beech Tower, would feature a lattice exterior and, at 80 stories, would be the tallest wood building in the world. The $39 million, 18-story Brock Commons residence hall at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, is currently the tallest wood building in the world. The tower, which is scheduled to open later this year, will be able to accommodate 400 students.
Hines' T3 (Timber, Technology, Transit) building in Minneapolis, which opened in November of last year, is a 220,000-square-foot structure built almost entirely out of Pacific Northwest trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. Minnesota's building codes classify such wood as Type IV Heavy Timber. Crews also used concrete in the construction.
While initial plans for all-wood towers have popped up across the globe, local jurisdictions are trying to deal with the building code and safety ramifications. Although the buildings in question are not made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) or NLT, recent changes to the building codes in Sandy Springs, GA, have brought the discussion around the safety of wood construction to the forefront. Wood has been eliminated as a construction material option in Sandy Springs for buildings more than three stories tall or bigger than 100,000 square feet. City officials said their primary motivation was safety.
However, Justin Mihalik, president of the American Institute of Architects New Jersey chapter, told Construction Dive in October that the necessary fire ratings can be attained using most any material. "If it's tested and meets requirements," he said, "wood is safe."