Thursday, September 9, 2021
As architects face up to the need for ethical, sustainable design in the age of climate change awareness, timber architecture is making a comeback in a new, technologically impressive way. Largely overlooked in the age of Modernism, recent years have seen a plethora of advancements related to mass timber across the world. This year alone, Japan announced plans for a supertall wooden skyscraper in Tokyo by 2041, while the European continent has seen plans for the world’s largest timber building in the Netherlands, and the world’s tallest timber tower in Norway.
The potential for mass timber to become the dominant material of future sustainable cities has also gained traction in the United States throughout 2018. Evolving codes and the increasing availability of mass timber is inspiring firms, universities, and state legislators to research and invest in ambitious projects across the country.
The year has seen milestones such as Oregon becoming the first U.S. state to legalize mass timber high rise buildings, MIT unveiling its technology-driven, prefabricated Longhouse, and the University of Arkansas beginning construction on the country’s first large-scale, mass timber higher education residence hall. The benefits of mass timber were also displayed at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018, as part of the “Blueprint for Better Cities” theme.
In recognition of the growth and potential of pass timber, we have assembled four projects currently being researched and conceptualized across the U.S. that are redefining what is possible with wood. From a bridge in Brooklyn to timber towers across Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco, the future schemes offer four in-tree-guing examples of how mass timber might redefine the skylines of future American cities.