New, Sustainable Building Material for Skyscapers: Wood

Could "timber skyscrapers" be in our future? Architects and engineers are seeing wood as a way to build sustainable 20-30 story structures with modern no-how.

The obvious concern in building skyscrapers with wood is flammability. Architect and professor Larry Richards of the University of Toronto says that that the proposed building methods create towers that "are highly earthquake- and fire-resistant and hugely eco-friendly":

"A provincial study to be released later this month will evidently not only make a case for the feasibility and safety of wood-constructed towers, but will also heavily promote the economic benefits for British Columbia. B.C. is indeed moving ahead on these fronts, having recently changed its building code to allow six-storey wood-frame construction. It is likely that research, development, and testing will soon lead to even more radical changes in the building codes for timber and timber-composite construction. (For example, although inherently more flammable than steel or concrete, if a timber member has sufficient size and mass it will burn slowly before structural failure.)"

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Wood Framing and Height

"wood as a way to build sustainable 20-30 story structures with modern no-how."

They are talking about "know how." But I agree with your interpretation: no way, no how.

"having recently changed its building code to allow six-storey wood-frame construction"

More seriously, I would like to learn more about their success in building six-story wood-framed structures. Around here, the limit is five stories, with the first story made of concrete, and the remaining four stories wood-framed. If we could build five or six-story wood-framed buildings, it would lower the cost of traditional-urban-scale buildings.

Charles Siegel

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