NC Mass Timber Office Building Breaks Ground

MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2023

Construction is now underway for an office building made from 100% mass timber in Wilmington, North Carolina. The 67,000-square-foot, four-story building will be part of the Live Oak Bank campus.

Work is being completed by joint building venture Swinerton and Monteith Construction, designed by architecture firm LS3P.

“Building Four” is reportedly expected to accommodate more than 200 of the bank’s existing workforce. It is also designed to achieve LEED Silver certification and will be surrounded by trees in front of an expanded pool.

“Live Oak Bank’s commitment to creating a sustainable, attractive, and intentionally designed campus for our employees continues to be evident in the thoughtful construction and design that Swinerton, Monteith, and LS3P are deploying in Building Four,” said Live Oak Bank’s president Huntley Garriott, in a statement.

According to reports, Swinerton’s sister company Timberlab will provide both the glue-laminated timber and the cross-laminate timber fabrications for the project. Swinterton said that mass timber is gaining popularity because:

  • It is lighter than steel and concrete and requires less foundation, which translates into savings of time and budget;
  • It is a renewable resource with a smaller carbon footprint than other traditional construction materials; and
  • It has a biophilic design that enhances connectivity to the natural environment.

“It’s a reflection of the economic development and innovation happening here in Wilmington, and we hope this project will help catalyze more sustainable, forward-thinking building practices across the Carolinas,” said Bryan Thomas, CEO and president of Monteith Construction.

The building is expected to be completed in early 2024.

Recent Timber Building Project

At the end of February, real estate investment and management firm Jamestown announced that work is now underway for a four-story mass timber loft office building in Atlanta. Vertical construction recently began on 619 Ponce, which is being constructed with local, Georgia-grown timber and targeting net neutral operational carbon.

The building will include 85,000 square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet of retail space, located at Ponce City Market. Amenities will also reportedly feature onsite daycare and medical facilities, direct access to the Atlanta BeltLine, bike storage, and complimentary access to The Roof at Ponce City Market.

Outdoor space will be available on every level, in addition to the building’s biophilic design, which will feature natural wood columns and ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows with operable panels.

According to the developer, most timber for mass timber construction is currently sourced from Canada, Austria or Germany. However, for this project, they are utilizing timber sourced and produced locally—a first for mass timber construction in Georgia.

Jamestown noted in the press release that the building’s columns, beams and floor slabs are made of local southern yellow pine sawtimber harvested from Georgia forests, including from timberland Jamestown owns and sustainably manages near Columbus, Georgia. 

The sawtimber was then transported to Georgia-Pacific’s sawmill in Albany, Georgia, to be converted into lumber. Afterwards, it was sent to SmartLam’s mass timber plant in Dothan, Alabama, where it was manufactured into cross laminated timber (CLT) panels.

The CLT panels will be erected onsite at Ponce City Market by StructureCraft and J.E. Dunn, with building completion expected in 2024.

‘Best’ Material Analysis

In March last year, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a set of computational tools to assist architects and engineers to avoid construction materials noted to have “embodied carbon.”

According to researchers at MIT, wood generally produces a much smaller carbon footprint as compared to steel and is noted to perform very well under forces of compression. However, steel is known to out-perform wood and other materials when it comes to tension.

From an emissions standpoint, Josephine Carstensen, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and coauthor of a paper on the research, believes that architects and engineers should be opting for timber materials if the structure being built doesn’t have any tension. Carstensen also noted, that in selecting the wood material for these particular structures, steel could then be used for applications where its properties provide maximum benefit.

The conclusion was made after MIT researchers looked into the construction of truss structures and what materials would minimize the structures’ embodied carbon while maintaining the properties a building needs.

To compare the difference, researchers utilized a new system technique called topology optimization. According to MIT, the technique works to produce designs optimized for different characteristics given parameters such as the dimensions of the structure and the load to be supported.

In a proposal they developed for reengineering several trusses, the researchers showed that savings of at least 10% in embodied emissions could be achieved with no loss of performance.

In the future, Carstensen says she hopes that the results of the study could encourage a positive trend toward increasing use of timber in large construction projects.


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Commerial/Architectural; cross-laminated timber; Design; NA; North America; Office Buildings; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Projects - Commercial; timber

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