The Business Case for Building with Wood
Today’s building owners are choosing wood to satisfy their value propositions. Speed of assembly is one of the greatest advantages of prefabricated panelized components. At Albina Yard, a new office building in Portland, CLT panels enabled each floor to be built in a matter of hours.
Albina Yard | Photo and Architecture: LEVER Architects
For those involved in shaping tomorrow’s built environment, this is an exciting time. Several converging trends are presenting both design challenges and new market opportunities. Cities are getting denser, spurring mixed-use projects that combine ground-level retail and several stories of residential units. Urban dwellers, millennials in particular, are seeking affordable dwellings that are close to work and include plenty of amenities. New office construction continues to be strong, but these offices are eschewing traditional configurations and instead tend to include common areas and open plans that encourage collaboration.
At the same time, firms are under pressure to innovate, implement lean practices, and create repeatable designs. More stringent building and energy codes and a growing emphasis on resilience are catalyzing performance-based designs—buildings that not only ensure occupants can safely evacuate during a disaster but that also maintain some functionality during an event and to be safely used afterwards.
Long valued as a building material for its performance and cost advantages, today’s building owners are choosing wood to satisfy these and their value propositions, from environmental sustainability and resilience to creating distinctive buildings that appeal to the next generation of employees and apartment dwellers, all while meeting tight budgets and construction timelines.
After reading this article, you should be able to:
1. Explain how wood construction can be used to reduce construction timeframes, ensure quality, and accommodate changes in the field.
2. Name some value propositions other than cost that are making wood an attractive construction choice for building owners.
3. Describe common prefabricated and modular components and assemblies that are used in wood construction today.
4. Describe how wood is being used to create environments that appeal to the new generation of employees and occupants.
5. Explain how recent code changes are enabling cost-effective, high-density designs.