The first buildings tall enough to “scrape the sky” were built out of steel and concrete. But now, the push to source more sustainable building materials has generated interest in building wooden skyscrapers. New types of engineered wood products combine sustainability, quality and high-speed construction. So far, the results are stunning.
Vancouver, BC architect Michael Green is one of the biggest proponents of wooden skyscrapers, completing the 8-story Wood Innovation and Design Centre in 2014. Currently, he is proposing a 35-story skyscraper that will form part of a six-tower development in Paris. Other wooden skyscrapers are being proposed or built in London; Sweden; Norway and Portland, Oregon.
Innovations in Timber
A new type of engineered wood called cross-laminated timber (CLT) is making these structures possible. CLT is produced by layering three, five or seven sections of wood at right angles. This creates a panel that is considerably stronger and more stable than regular wood. Better yet, CLT costs far less to transport because of its lighter weight.
The production of wood has a much lower CO2 footprint and limits waste when compared to steel and concrete. By some estimations, construction accounts for around thirty to forty percent of the CO2 produced in the world. Using wood can substantially reduce these percentages. Wood construction is just as fire-resistant as other building materials, but timber creates a better insulated indoor environment that requires less energy for temperature regulation.
A Boon to Local Industry
The trend toward wood skyscrapers is catching on in Timber Products’ neck of the woods. Oregon State University (OSU) researchers are teaming up with architect Michael Green and the Seattle firm of Miller Hull to build a wood innovation center and pilot manufacturing plant at OSU. Other initiatives funded by Oregon BEST and the National Center for Advanced Wood Products Manufacturing and Design are springing up throughout the Northwest as well.
Timber Products is excited about the future of wooden skyscrapers, and we look forward to supplying our timber when the time is right. But what do you think about these types of skyscrapers?