- The team behind the Framework Project in Portland, OR, announced Tuesday that it has secured the necessary permits to begin construction on the first wood high-rise in the U.S.
- The 12-story building will also be the tallest mass-timber building in the country and the tallest post-tensioned rocking wall building in the world. As part of the permitting process, building officials tested the design and materials for fire, acoustic and structural performance.
- The mixed-use tower will include office space, ground-floor retail, social enterprise space, 60 affordable housing units and a tall wood exhibit. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year, with completion expected in late 2018.
Critics of wood buildings often point to safety as a key concern, but the Framework team said the extensive testing during the permitting process provided proof that cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (glulam) are suitable for high-rise construction and meet fire safety codes.
In September 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Framework and 475 West 18th from 130-134 Holdings as the winners of the U.S. Tall Wood Building Competition. The contest was sponsored by the USDA along with the Softwood Lumber Board and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council. Both projects were selected based on their design proposals for tall timber buildings, and each received $1.5 million for further research and development on their proposals.
However, earlier this year, the developer behind the 475 West 18th winning proposal canceled plans for the 10-story project. Developer Sy Ghassemi told The Real Deal that lenders had shown little interest in funding the project and that there had been a downturn in the market since planning began.
The Tall Wood Building Competition aimed to promote the use of mass timber as a sustainable building material, as well as to boost production of wood products — and employment — in the U.S.
The use of CLT or any other mass-timber product as the primary material in large-scale, commercial or residential buildings has been slow to catch on in the U.S., primarily because of building codes and the perception of wood as unsuitable for those types of applications.
Hines Interests' 200,000-square-foot T3 (Timber, Technology, Transit) building in Minneapolis, which opened in November 2016, is currently the tallest mass timber building in the U.S. It was constructed primarily from Pacific Northwest trees killed by the mountain pine beetle and features a grid-based framing system using a combination of spruce-pine-fir nail-laminated timber panels, spruce glulam and concrete.