America’s First Wooden Skyscraper Just Got Approved For Construction

While skyscrapers have been around for over a century, we can all agree that skyscrapers, drones, and smartphones are the craze of the decade. And well, fidget spinners too, but we’ll stick to the sensible ones. People have been eccentric enough to think of skyscrapers hanging from asteroids, or a little less crazy ones that look like a cobra. As Fazlur Rahman has brought us limitless possibilities, designers imagine things like U-shaped skyscrapers to fill up urban cities’ skylines. A very unusual 12 story wooden skyscraper has been planned for Portland, Oregon that recently received the approvals.

The building named Framework will be constructed using cross-laminated timber, making it the tallest wooden skyscraper in the US at 43 meters. While the design has been approved for construction, the process will begin only when the contractors secure building permits. In addition to providing a boost to the local timber industry, the building will provide affordable housing to residents who earn below 60 percent of the area’s median family income.

The mixed-use Framework designed by a collaboration between a local firm Lever Architecture and real-estate developer project, will house retail, offices, and residences. Lever Architecture founder, Thomas Robinson said that the company is “exploring the relationship between materials, experience, and the environment—how the way we build impacts the way we live and the environment as a whole.”

The building will primarily use cross-laminated timber (CLT) in construction, which is an engineered wooden building system. Layers of lumber are placed at right angles to one another, and then clamped and glued together forming structural panels. The technique gives the panels better strength, rigidity, and dimensional stability than the conventional construction methods. Many building applications make use of this structural stability to replace concrete and steel. The skyscraper will also use Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) in its construction.

CLT panels can have the strength of steel. Thus buildings constructed with these will have a much smaller carbon footprint than the metal alternatives. Lever Architects is one of the early adopters of the environmentally friendly products like CLT as their website reads, “Framework is part of a mutually beneficial cycle between natural resources, the rural timber industries that rely on these resources, and the cities served by the completion of these buildings.”

The city of Portland is running an Affordable Housing Project with an aim to provide people with access to affordable residences. According to the project’s website, the project is offering 356 low-income housing complexes that hold 21,188 subsidized apartments for rent in Portland. The Framework wooden skyscraper is a part of the same project and is expected to be completed by December this year.

Images: Lever Architecture


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