Can wood do that? This question is one that building project teams hear less and less these days. In almost every circumstance, the answer is yes, wood can do that. Large midrise buildings in the United States and Europe employ engineered wood assemblies as structure. Wood products and finishes are safer and more code-ready than ever before. Plus, there’s the raw market appeal: More people want to live with wood, a natural, appealing material that end-users connect with on a basic human level.
This new InfoCenter and blog series explores some of the new applications and products behind the growing architectural and occupant appeal. Among the main topics is the broad interest in wood structures and hybrid systems for midrise construction, as well as its dominance in the multifamily market. Improvements and updates to these project types take place on an almost daily basis.
Yet even more-fundamental advances add to the prospects for continued growth. A key trend demonstrates how wood construction provides a solid environmental platform for green building initiatives including zero-net-energy (ZNE) building projects, which some states may require as soon as 2030. Advanced framing with engineered wood structures can boost performance to achieve the deepest possible levels of energy efficiency, unlocking the potential of zero-net energy.
At the same time, wood assemblies are shown to create healthier buildings that engage people in ways that steel and concrete can’t. Studies show that biophilia, the natural human affinity for living things, increases the human appeal of wood interiors and exposed wood, including finishes that expose graining and natural wood colors.
These trends have combined to boost the use of innovative wood systems in various building types, most notably in multifamily projects. This market has seen the growth in low-rise and midrise construction with engineered wood as well as podium-type hybrids with concrete or masonry bases and wood systems rising three to seven stories above. The wood product solutions offer affordable, sustainable, and appealing ways to differentiate the apartments and condominiums from competitors.
Behind these residential buildings –- and the many schools, libraries, museums, senior facilities, transit centers and other buildings around the country made with wood –- is a wide-ranging increase in product research and cost-effective, creative applications. It’s behind a proliferation of novel building technologies -- from glulams and I-joists to cross-laminated timber and structural composites –- that bring architects a rich field of wood-based options.
So, the answer is yes. Wood can do that.
Content not edited by Architectural Record staff