Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Future of Tall Timber

The proposed River Beech Tow­er designed by Perkins + Will for the banks for the Chicago River. (Perkins + Will)
As part of a special issue of The Architect's Newspaper the following excerpt is from an interview I conducted with a Daniel Safarik, editor for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). The issue focused on the future of timber in American architecture, and the interview addressed the CTBUH's recent “Tall Timber: A Global Audit.”  

AN: What do you think the next steps are, or barriers to overcome, for mass timber to become a common building method?

The foremost obstacle is local fire codes. Most fire codes prohibit wood structures from rising above five or six stories. Many codes stipulate that a building of this height must also have a concrete base, particularly if there are commercial uses on the ground floor, such as restaurants, or if there is vehicle parking, to give one to three hours of fire protection that would allow safe exiting before structural collapse. This is predicated on the assumption that wood high-rises would use platform construction, with dimensional lumber such as two by fours, beams, and joists, similar to those currently permitted.

Read the full interview on The Architect's Newspaper