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Timber Industry 'Bracing' for Soaring Demand

Building with wood is back in fashion, but lumber producers have to reckon with thorny politics and new timber-based materials that have yet to be truly defined.
November 28, 2017, 8am PST | Katharine Jose
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U.S. Department of Agriculture

Matthew Messner reviews the history and politics of wood as a building material in a special timber issue of The Architect's Newspaper

“Over the past 150 years, the process and politics of wood have shaped a highly efficient industry that still provides the vast majority of the U.S.’s house-building material. With new technology, wood is pushing into new territories, and the lumber industry is bracing to respond to these demands.”

Anyone following developments in the built environment has seen the re-rise of wood construction. Timber towers are going up in France, in England, and most recently, “an academic and professional collaboration” produced a timber-based design for the River Beech Tower in Chicago, in part because “it is lighter, more easily transportable and has a smaller environmental impact than its concrete or steel counterparts.”

“Although the lumber industry is confident it can handle an increase in demand,” Messner writes, “there are factors that will need to be addressed.” These include political maneuvering between the U.S. and Canada, updating fire codes, and establish legal definitions for new products like cross-laminated timber (“a true wonder material,” maybe).

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Published on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 in The Architect's Newspaper
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