Fire Safety Testing Paves the Way for Timber Towers

A new kind of building will soon rise in the United States: the wooden tower. Extensive testing by the US Department of Agriculture and the timber industry will soon make timber viable for high-rise tower construction.

1 minute read

November 28, 2016, 2:00 PM PST

By ArupAmericas

Housing Construction

Alan Levine / Flickr

Although tall wood buildings in countries like Norway and Austria have made headlines around the world, mass timber, as this type of construction is known, has yet to make significant inroads here. Wood dominates low-rise residential construction in the US, but is absent in buildings more than five stories tall.

Many designers, timber industry representatives, and government officials are pushing for that to change. Their motivations vary. Mass timber offers incredible aesthetic benefits and could create new jobs in rural areas. It also holds tremendous potential to mitigate climate change. Carbon-heavy steel and concrete production accounts for almost 5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Mass timber products require no fossil fuels to produce — trees grow with solar energy alone — and can be replenished through sustainable logging and tree farms. As an added bonus, it can sequester carbon held in trees, preventing it from seeping into the atmosphere when they decay.

In 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture and timber industry partners, enthusiastic about the combination of new jobs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, launched the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition. The contest offered $3 million to teams of designers and developers who pledged to build a mass timber tower at least 80 feet high.

Monday, November 28, 2016 in Doggerel

Chicago Intercity Rail

Amtrak Ramping Up Infrastructure Projects

Thanks to federal funding from the 2021 infrastructure act, the agency plans to triple its investment in infrastructure improvements and new routes in the next two years.

September 25, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

Google maps street view of San Francisco alleyway.

Ending Downtown San Francisco’s ‘Doom Loop’

A new public space project offers an ambitious vision—so why is the city implementing it at such a small scale?

September 26, 2023 - Fast Company

Google street view of yellow "End Freeway 1/4 mile" sign on 90 freeway in Los Angeles, California.

Proposal Would Transform L.A.’s ‘Freeway to Nowhere’ Into Park, Housing

A never-completed freeway segment could see new life as a mixed-use development with housing, commercial space, and one of the county’s largest parks.

September 26, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

Traffic on the 405 interstate freeway through the Sepulveda Pass at Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California

Report: Bike Lanes Can't Make up for New Roads

If California wants to meet its climate goals, the state must stop funding its myriad road construction and expansion projects.

September 29 - Streetsblog California

Late evening view of downtown Minneapolis skyline with stone bridge in foreground

Minneapolis Affordable Housing Project Largest in 20 Years

The city opened its first large multifamily affordable housing complex in decades, but a recent court ruling against the Minneapolis 2040 rezoning plan could jeopardize future projects.

September 29 - Minnesota Public Radio

Close-up of vertical PARK sign on multistory urban parking garage.

NYC Mayor Proposes Eliminating Parking Minimums

Mayor Adams wants to stop requiring off-site parking for new buildings to reduce the costs of construction as part of the ‘City of Yes’ package of zoning reforms.

September 29 - StreetsBlog NYC

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.