Growing Mass Timber Design
All the mass timber projects we’ve done at DLR Group have fully exposed timber frames creating this inherent beauty that’s unparalleled. This, in part, is due to the material being once alive – it’s this connection to nature that’s fundamental to human beings.
Exposed Frame, Integrated System
Most people walk into a mass timber project and say, “Oh! This is beautiful.” There’s something universal about the beauty of wood, and most everyone who comes into these buildings really appreciates that aesthetic. So, our design is a celebration of this exposed structure. We do everything we can to detail it very carefully, and to integrate all the different systems.
The benefit of an integrated approach to design is beneficial to our clients in a variety of ways. In these timber buildings, it’s all there on display. You see that integration because components like the sprinkler pipes and mechanical systems are all working in concert with the structural system – which is key to the success of the aesthetic.
Challenge and Solution
As we explore mass timber across other building types beyond office buildings, we’re encountering new challenges from further code requirements to acoustic standards. In May of 2020, we were awarded the U.S. Forest Service Wood Innovations Grant in collaboration with the University of Minnesota to fund research on designing mass timber structures for other project types. Together, we’re diving deeper into acoustic testing and fire and life safety. New South Construction Vice President John Carmichael, whom we worked with on T3 West Midtown in Atlanta, noted, “It’s ironic – people think that timber structures will burn. But a multitude of tests on mass wood structures have shown that they actually have a better fire rating than steel. They typically just char.”
A key driver pushing mass timber forward is the environmental advantages. More and more people in the design industry are focused on carbon reduction of their projects – this is where mass timber really shines. Wood is a renewable resource and, of course, as the tree grows it mitigates carbon by taking it from the atmosphere. So, with such a low carbon footprint, it typically offsets the transportation costs to get the product to the construction site.
Knowing that timber is such a difference-maker in terms of carbon reduction, it’s easy to imagine a tighter handshake between, say, environmental policy and the use of mass timber in the future.
Now and Near
We’re finding that many owners, developers, and building occupants are putting a lot of emphasis on data-driven and evidence-based design. In addition to tracking carbon and doing projects with light carbon footprints, there is a heightened interest in indoor air quality and how spaces feel on the inside. These mass timber buildings are poised to satisfy so many aspects of what people are really looking for in the spaces they work – and hopefully in spaces where they learn and live, as well.
The potential for growth in the timber industry is vast. It’s important to note that globally, a very small percentage of the world’s forests are used to produce wood for buildings. Even with the amount of growth in the industry over the course of a year we’re still only using a very small percentage of that for buildings.
Our goal is to help realize more of these buildings. Part of that is to demonstrate that they’re economically viable, logistics and sourcing materials notwithstanding. In doing so, we can elevate the entire industry’s knowledge.
In the Spotlight
DLR Group Partners with Texas A&M on Academic Center
DLR Group is partnering with Hines for the first mass timber academic building at Texas A&M. The Aplin Center will be an immersive learning laboratory for new university programs in hospitality and retail studies.
Mass Timber Innovation: The Hospitality Prototype
The world has reached a crucial tipping point around carbon emissions. Could timber construction be the answer for the hospitality industry?
Biophilia and Mass Timber at Swarthmore College
Our partnership with Swarthmore College for the Dining and Community Commons Project focuses on equitable community and ambitious sustainability goals.
Metropolis Magazine Names DLR Group a Responsible Disruptor
Our work on mass timber for hotels was honored for its representation of positive change and healthy innovation in architecture and design.
Materiality and Hospitality: Researching Mass Timber Design for Hotels
Rising demand for travel means fresh design opportunities to open conversations about lowering the carbon impact of new hotels.
Timber: What’s Old is New Again
Many of us are familiar with wood as a decorative and finishing material, but wood is making its way back – quite literally – to the core of our buildings.
Designing for Healing in the World of Behavioral Health
David Frum, Healthcare Leader, examines design selections that behavioral health facilities can include to promote wellness and the process of recovery.
A Seamless Balance: Sustainability and Luxury in Hospitality
Join Middle East Hospitality Director Henrique Dias, Intl. Assoc. AIA, at the Hotel & Hospitality Expo Saudi Arabia for a panel diving into how we create harmonious and environmentally conscious hospitality experiences.
Jackie Eckhardt to Present at 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo
Jackie Eckhardt to present a session titled “Decisions That Stick: How to Support Defensible Decision-Making” at 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo.
The Intersection of Art and Design
The interplay between art and design has yielded some of humanity's most captivating works. Hear from designers on why the two can make such an impact.
From Client to Educational Learning Designer: Q&A with Dr. Tim Shimp
Having worked in nearly every facet of the K-12 education system, Dr. Tim Shimp is using his practical experience to revolutionize the learning experience.
A Likely Pairing
We’re rewinding to the beginning of our partnership with Accidentally Wes Anderson. Sitting down with creator Wally Koval, we discuss how we see the world differently through our intersection of distinctive design and unexpected narrative.
2023 A4LE LearningSCAPES
Hear our design professionals present during three separate sessions at this year’s A4LE LearningSCAPES. Topics include a research-backed case study of the 2022 James D. MacConnell award finalist; a new approach to applied learning; and a look into facilities planning through an equity lens.
Telling Immersive Stories Through Augmented Reality
We are pursuing an innovative and engaging approach to storytelling at the museum level, one that immerses visitors in a narrative using augmented reality.