Tall wood buildings: Going up

Ari Sinha, Andre Barbosa and Chris Higgins are working on a project called “Framework” (Framework Project LLC), a 12-story, mixed-use structure in north Portland. It was created by a team from LEVER Architects and Project.

The project won the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, a contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Softwood Lumber Board and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council. The team was awarded $1.5 million toward the project.

“The USDA grant will allow the project to engage the exploratory phase, including the research and development necessary to utilize Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and other engineered wood products in high-rise construction in the United States,” LEVER says. “This includes working with Portland and Oregon code authorities during the pre-permitting process to define and perform the necessary testing and peer review to demonstrate the feasibility of tall wood buildings.”

Testing is required because CLT is not currently part of the Oregon prescriptive building code, and that’s where Oregon State comes in with crushing tests that will prove the stiffness, strength and flexibility of CLT.

Sheer testing, conducted at the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, imitates seismic activity to illustrate CLT’s remarkable resistance to earthquakes.

“This testing can be very extensive and time consuming,” says Sinha, who will lead the tests. “But it’s worth it because we are able to collect this data and share it with others to be used in the future. Our students also get great hands-on experience helping with the tests.”

“Framework” contains retail space on the first floor followed by five levels of offices and five levels of workforce housing. More importantly, the building contains Oregon grown and produced CLT, an advanced wood product that represents the future of construction.