Fire Tests Enable New Timber Typologies
Wood has been a default building material for millennia. Historically, one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep buildings standing upright was to fell large trees and shape them into load-bearing beams and columns. This changed in the 20th century, when the pliable possibilities of concrete and the seemingly immortal strength of steel lured builders away.
Thanks to a technology known as mass (or engineered) timber, wood construction is making a comeback for mid- and high-rise buildings. Mass timber was invented in the late 1800s, but attracted little interest until recently, when growing concern about buildings’ environmental impact led designers to search for alternative structural solutions.
Offering benefits ranging from carbon sequestration to job creation, mass timber (which includes variants such as glulam and CLT) has gained powerful allies among designers and policymakers alike. But in the United States, it has remained confined largely to high-profile showcase projects. Research conducted this spring could soon change this.