Mass Timber Proposed in Milwaukee Building

A Wisconsin-based real estate development firm, New Land Enterprises, plans to construct a seven-story mass timber office building on a vacant site in downtown Milwaukee. The building was designed by Korb + Associates Architects and would be the tallest of such structures in Wisconsin.

What is mass timber?
Mass timber is a category of structural framing styles typically characterized by the use of large, solid wood panels for wall, floor, and roof construction. Examples include: glued-laminated timber (glulam), nail-laminated timber (NLT), cross-laminated timber (CLT), and dowel-laminated timber (DLT).

Mass timber has emerged as a viable building material for tall buildings due to its relative strength, environmental benefits, and aesthetic appeal. In addition, wood has environmental benefits over substitute materials. Wood products have less embodied energy, generate less environmental pollution during manufacturing, and are renewable. The use of mass timber over substitute materials speed up the construction process and saves time due to off-site fabrication and efficient delivery of panels to the work site, thereby reducing overall project costs.

What role can mass timber play in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin’s forest industry employs more than 60,000 people and has an output of $24.1 billion. The expansion of a mass timber manufacturing base in the state would lead to additional growth of its forest products economy. Furthermore, the use of mass timber and other wood products manufactured in Wisconsin can grow markets for harvested timber thereby supporting forest management activities that result in healthy, resilient forests.

Wisconsin red pine (Pinus resinosa) is commercially used in light framing and structural glued-laminated timber but its use in cross-laminated timber has been limited. Both red pine and jack pine (Pinus banksiana) are acceptable for use in cross-laminated timber under American National Standards Institute (ANSI) PRG-320 guidelines. Applications involving hardwood species are currently being researched. Product testing, grading approval, and regular inspection are necessary for a firm to manufacture and sell mass timber for construction purposes.

Forest products play an integral role in our lives, our communities, and in our economy. At a broad level, construction projects involving mass timber or other wood-based systems encourage the public to better understand the benefits of wood as a renewable, cost-competitive raw material that provides local jobs and supports forest management efforts.

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