Tall Mass-Timber Building

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Virginia Tech

How can we as design professionals contribute to increase the use of less carbon-intensive materials to build our growing cities?

Cities are experiencing a resurgence in population growth and therefore the building industry ought to attend this demand with sustainable solutions. One way of responding to the growing urban population and increase demand for housing as well as to make efficient use of our limited resources is to increase the density in our cities. Since steel and concrete have high material strengths, we currently use either steel, concrete or composites of them to build skyscrapers. Unfortunately, both of these materials have a large carbon footprint. The design community has the challenge to achieve net-zero emissions buildings by the year 2030, and the efforts now should be focused on using less carbon intensive materials, such as timber.

While cultures around the world have built with wood for centuries, recent technological innovations, such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), is allowing for new applications of wood as the main structural material and the potential to use it for large-scale projects. However, as expected with a new building material some constrains have still to be overcome.

For my thesis, I desired to explore this issue through the design of a tall building using mass timber as its main structural material. Engineered timber is here, the future is bright!

Mass-Timber, Cross Laminated Timber, Tall Wooden Structures, Co-living