Why Wood?

Haylee Thomas-Kuhlmann (post 10)


Why Wood?

Tall wooden buildings have been around for some time but steel and concrete have taken over for most of our tall buildings. A local wood example is the Butler Building in Minneapolis (built 1906). It is still standing today and all 8 floors are made of heavy timber with a brick facade. A recent example is the T3 building coming this year. They will use the technique of layering wood to make large masses of wood. T3 is not the only one, other tall wood buildings are going up in other parts of the world. Why are these tall wood buildings making a comeback and do they meet the standards we have for our buildings today?

The reason these wood skyscrapers are becoming a part of our urban landscape is because they meet the standards of the people living there.

Wood stores carbon over its life time which is important in not only America but also many other large cities in the world. Our society is trending towards a more green and eco-friendly environment and these wooden skyscrapers meet that criteria. The T3 building will store 3,646 metric tons of carbon dioxide alone, could you imagine the carbon we could hold with a wooden city?

Another reason these buildings are meeting standards are the price of construction. The material itself is only about 4% less than that of concrete but it takes a much smaller construction crew and much less time to build a wooden building. For example, a hotel building in Italy estimated a construction time of three months using cross laminated timber but if traditional concrete construction would have been used it would have taken two years to build. This allows for less money to be spent on labor and for buildings to go up faster than thought possible.

Even though this material seems like an amazing idea many people are still afraid of fires and structure failures due to natural disasters. Something many people do not know about wood is its amazing properties of keeping its strength even when the material fails itself. In a fire steel will lose its rigidity and the frame can collapse quite quickly but wood, especially cross laminated timber, will keep its form and the majority of its strength as it burns, allowing time for those to escape. These company’s also must follow specific building codes and instructions; they could not build a building that was a huge liability to lives and the city around it. Research and testing have proven wood can withstand what our modern-day buildings of steel and concrete can.

This material may be old but it making a truly innovative come back. The one big problem is how do we manage forests? If these buildings do take off and wood becomes a normal building material for tall buildings will earth be able to grow trees at the pace that is needed? Will companies plant for every tree taken? We can help the earth by using wood for carbon levels but also hurt it by taking trees from the ground. How society and companies will handle this issue will determine how truly successful these buildings are and how often they can be used.




Bowyer, Jim. Modern Tall Wood Buildings: Opportunities for Innovation. N.p.: Dovetail Partners, n.d. Jan. 2016. Web. 6 Nov. 2016.

“SUSTAINABILITY.” T3. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.


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