The First Mass Timber High-Rise Building in the U.S. Gets the Green Light For Construction

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo / Published by Dwell
Paving the way for mass timber construction in the United States, The Framework Project, LLC has just announced that it received approval for a building permit that will allow the country's first wood high-rise structure to be built.

The announcement marks a major milestone for the project, which is the first to be granted regulatory permission to build a wood high-rise in the U.S. The permit, awarded by the State of Oregon and the City of Portland, designates Framework, a 12-story-tall wood resilient building planned for Portland’s Pearl District, as a landmark "shovel ready" decision for the U.S. construction industry. 

Thomas Robinson of LEVER Architecture—the firm responsible for the design of Framework—shared, "We are excited that Framework has achieved this historic permitting milestone, for the first all-mass timber high-rise building in the United States. This project is an opportunity to create a new kind of architectural experience that leverages a renewable resource and connects urban growth with rural economic development in Oregon." 

LEVER has been leading the way for the use of CLT mass timber constructions in the U.S. Their project, Albina Yard, which opened in September 2016, is the first office building in the U.S. to utilize mass timber construction. 

The First Mass Timber High-Rise Building in the U.S. Gets the Green Light For Construction - Photo 1 of 6 - Exterior rendering, Framework. 

Exterior rendering, Framework. 

Framework is supported by a $1.5 million award from the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, which was sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Softwood LumberBoard, and Binational Softwood Lumber Council. The focus of the competition is to promote the use of domestically-sourced, engineered wood products in the United States, thereby increasing demand from domestic rural lumber mills. This will in turn boost their respective rural economies.

The First Mass Timber High-Rise Building in the U.S. Gets the Green Light For Construction - Photo 2 of 6 - Interior rendering, Framework.

Interior rendering, Framework.

Framework, which is set for mixed use, will begin construction in the fall of 2017, with at estimated completion date of late-2018. The building is an exciting project full of "firsts" for the industry. When construction is complete, Framework will be the first high-rise building made from wood in the U.S., the tallest mass timber building in the U.S, and the tallest post-tensioned rocking wall project in the world.

The First Mass Timber High-Rise Building in the U.S. Gets the Green Light For Construction - Photo 3 of 6 - Office rendering, Framework. 

Office rendering, Framework. 

Framework will also have a major impact on the community. Along with supporting an urban-rural connection with the use of local timber, the building will have five floors of affordable housing, will be certified as a B Corp and will be designated as a low-carbon building.  

The First Mass Timber High-Rise Building in the U.S. Gets the Green Light For Construction - Photo 4 of 6 - Affordable housing rendering, Framework.

Affordable housing rendering, Framework.

"The innovations in wood construction that are part of the design of the Framework building will help change how America builds in the years to come," noted Steve Lovett, CEO of the Softwood Lumber Board. "Modern wood-based building systems create opportunities to increase the use of wood products, which is better for both the environment and rural communities," he elaborates.

The First Mass Timber High-Rise Building in the U.S. Gets the Green Light For Construction - Photo 5 of 6 - Timber core, frame, floor.

Timber core, frame, floor.


The First Mass Timber High-Rise Building in the U.S. Gets the Green Light For Construction - Photo 6 of 6 - Structural model, Framework.

Structural model, Framework.