The 21st century is gearing up to become the golden age of wooden architecture. Over the next 40 years, we’ll likely need nearly 2.5 trillion square feet of new construction to support growth, and the world’s architects, developers, governments and other institutions are increasingly calling for the use of wood as a primary material.
In a new piece called “The Trees and the Forest of New Towers,” The New York Times explains why. The short answer? Sustainability, naturally. But that’s not all.
“‘We’re past the tipping point in the acceptance of wood,’ said Thomas Robinson, founder of the Portland, Ore., firm Lever Architecture, which recently completed the Nature Conservancy’s local offices and community center using Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood and is working on an expanded mass-timber headquarters for Adidas. ‘The people who are the innovators, looking for the next thing, a richer experience for their employees or how they live, they’re turning to mass timber.’ The benefits are aesthetic and environmentally responsible, he added. ‘People just connect to wood in a way that is visceral.’”
People might not think that cutting down trees to build architecture is environmentally sensitive, but that’s where sustainably managed forests come in, strategically planted and harvested to ensure an ongoing supply that meets demand while also providing essential wildlife habitats, capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere and giving us the green spaces we need to be healthy.
Advancements in engineered wood have enabled huge multi-story timber towers to be constructed around the globe. The International Building Code was changed last year to allow wooden buildings up to 270 feet tall, and while the United States code won’t adopt new standards until 2021, some states are already allowing projects based on the new criteria to be submitted.
Check out some of the tall wooden building projects we’ve covered recently: