Tall with Timber: A Seattle Mass Timber Tower Case Study
Climate change, international trade disputes, and new levels of health consciousness are contributing to industry momentum in support of renewable and locally available resources. In 2016, the Board of the International Code Council (ICC) approved the creation of an ad hoc committee to explore the building science of tall wood buildings with a scope to investigate the feasibility of, and act on, developing code changes for tall wood buildings. In 2018, the 14 proposals presented by the ad-hoc committee were approved by the ICC membership. The City of Seattle began accepting permit applications for developments that use mass timber in heavy timber building types up to 18 stories tall.
A case study for a mass timber tower in Seattle. Rendering by DLR Group.
A team of internationally recognized industry leaders developed a design, engineering, and cost feasibility study to serve as an example for the design of a 12-story mixed-use mass timber tower in Seattle.
Mass timber construction carries many advantages including higher levels of quality, a reduced construction schedule, cost competitiveness, and a more stable model of long-term labor distribution. Challenges include a more front-loaded, manufacturing-oriented approach to integrated design that requires teams of architects, engineers, contractors, and manufacturers to work closely together, and at higher levels of detail resolution, starting on day one.