Toronto on timber trail for high rise construction

high rise construction
Centuries after steel and concrete became the standard for high-rise construction; the timber tree has made a comeback at Tronto where Sidewalk Labs LLC, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc, has decided to use timber to construct all of its buildings for a mixed-use community along its eastern waterfront real estate project. Not just this, a Toronto-based real estate firm owned by Steven Dejonckheere, is also planning a 10-story office building in Vancouver out of timber. Meanwhile, Oregon became the first state of the United States (US) to amend its building code to permit taller buildings made from timber. The material can contribute to people's wellness, are beautiful, easy to assemble, and strong enough support to build dozens of stories, director of buildings innovation at Sidewalk Labs, Karim Khalifa, said, adding that unlike concrete and steel, which are very carbon intensive to produce, using timber in buildings takes carbon out of the atmosphere. This is so because, timber becomes more cost competitive as steel prices rise, and the use of pre-fabricated wood panels allows for quicker construction with less labor. Commenting on the emerging scenario, vice president at Triovest, Dejonckheere, said that it is the old brick and beam character, but without the creaks and drafts, and with the quality of a new building. It is not only about the aesthetics, Triovest is hoping it can collect a premium on rent, potentially five to 10 percent, based on the buildings unique character, he insisted.

As opposed to the heavy timber construction from 100 years ago, builders are using so-called mass timber from younger, smaller trees that are engineered together, said architect Michael Green, an early proponent of the material. Unlike traditional two-by-four lumber, cross-laminated timber consists of layers of wood glued together to form solid, thick panels that can be made in custom dimensions for anything from walls and floors to beams and roofs. Multiple tests over a period of time have shown the timber has good levels of fire resistance — close to three hours in some cases — even when unprotected, according to Ottawa-based government agency National Research Council Canada. The construction costs for cross-laminated timber are roughly equivalent to other materials, the real savings come in time, said president and chief executive officer of the American Wood Council, representing wood manufacturers, Robert Glowinski, said and added that the modules arrive at the job site labeled and ready to be assembled in a particular spot by crane. Apart from this, cross-laminated timber doesn't need to cure like concrete, speeding up construction and reducing the onsite-equipment needed. According to ERA Forest Products Research, it still represents a small fraction of the North American lumber market, a shift by the International Code Council, an agency that develops model codes followed by state and local municipalities, could help spur mass adoption as the proposed changes to the ICC building code models will allow structures made of mass timber to be built as high as 18 stories, up from the previous limit of six. If approved, the shift will likely have a significant impact on materials that are used for future construction, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), ICC, Dominic Sims, said.

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