Wood Being Wood*
By Andrea Alvarez Barrios
Advanced design: Good, Well -- Better | Piergianna Mazzocca
Due to fire-fearing legislation, wooden structures were banned from downtown Chicago over 100 years ago. Technological advances now allow for the reinterpretation of existing steel typologies to address current concerns regarding sustainability. In general, the load-bearing structure is responsible for the largest portion of a building’s embodied energy, and since high rises require proportionally more structural material, their carbon foot-prints tend to be substantially higher. Employing an engineered wood alternative to steel would, therefore, diminish high rises carbon emissions, while preserving density in inner cities. Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a new material that can challenge our concept of high rise buildings, not just as a typology but as a type. Producing a CLT high rise structure, through aesthetic and material studies will explore Chicago's resilience not to past events, but to the challenge of building a sustainable future. By building with CLT we consume our resources more efficiently, resulting in a different promise for the future.