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Mass timber construction is sweeping the globe, challenging traditional concrete and steel, in part due to climate change issues.

Mass timber construction is sweeping the globe, challenging traditional concrete and steel.

Beauty [should] be attainable by the masses, even the poorest.

Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban loves designing tall structures with wood, specifically mass timber. Ban shares his affinity for timber buildings as a keynote speaker at the International Mass Timber Conference, March 24–26, in Portland, Oregon. The conference is the largest event in the world focusing on cross-laminated timber and other mass timber products in manufacturing and construction.

One of Ban's latest mass timber buildings, the Terrace House in Vancouver, British Columbia, soars to 19 stories, adding beauty and function to the Vancouver skyline. Mass timber construction is sweeping the globe, challenging traditional concrete and steel, in part due to climate change issues. But Ban brings in other aspects, as well, focusing on beauty, function, and surprisingly, social justice and human compassion. His ideas resonate with builders and developers grappling with housing shortages, affordable housing, and homelessness.

Ban advocates that he “wants beauty to be attainable by the masses, even the poorest.” Having designed temporary housing for refugees and victims of various disasters, Ban has said that “refugee shelter has to be beautiful. Psychologically, refugees are damaged. They have to stay in nice places.”

In today’s world, mass timber construction offers a smaller carbon footprint, a new way of constructing buildings, even a solution for dealing with overstocked forests ripe for wildfires. The innovative construction methods rely frequently on using cranes to install panels instead of doing traditional hammer and nails framing. That means mass timber buildings erect faster and require less labor. Capitalizing on the natural and appealing look of wood, the buildings consistently score well on fire and earthquake safety as well. Internationally, countries are updating codes to reflect the worldwide building revolution.

As the Portland event approaches, Bill Parsons of WoodWorks, a conference co-producer, is particularly eager to attract people relatively new to mass timber construction. “We’d like to attract building teams – architects, engineers, contractors, and developers – who are in the process of trying their first project. We know that once people experience the benefits of mass timber, they continue to use it. The main benefit to attending this conference is that they can meet everyone in the mass timber space at one event – from experienced teams to every product manufacturer.”

The International Mass Timber Conference is produced by Forest Business Network in cooperation with the wood design experts at WoodWorks-Wood Products Council. The conference is supported by Premier Sponsors including Hexion, Swinerton Mass Timber, Katerra, and Kallesoe Machinery, along with major sponsors Think Wood, Freres Lumber MPP, D.R. Johnson Wood Innovations, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Seagate Mass Timber, Sansin, Hilti, Nordic Structures, Sterling, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, and USNR. Conference partners include #forestproud, TallWood Design Institute, U.S. Forest Service, and Business Oregon.

About the International Mass Timber Conference

IMTC is the largest gathering of mass timber experts in the world. The conference explores the supply chain for cross-laminated timber, nail-laminated timber, glulam beams, mass plywood panels, dowel-laminated timber, and laminated veneer lumber; and the opportunities and obstacles for mass timber in global manufacturing and construction. Over 1,500 global experts attend to hear from 70+ speakers and to network with mass timber thought leaders in the 95+ booth exhibition hall.

About Forest Business Network

FBN is a top-tier consultancy, event marketing, and news and information source in the forest products sector. Its weekly email newsletter is a go-to news resource for global industry professionals. FBN’s president and CEO, Craig Rawlings, is a nationally recognized expert in under-utilized timber and biomass.

About WoodWorks

WoodWorks (http://www.woodworks.org) provides free one-on-one project assistance as well as education and resources related to the code-compliant design of non-residential and multi-family wood buildings. WoodWorks technical experts offer support from design through construction on a wide range of building types, including mid-rise/multi-residential, educational, commercial, corporate, institutional and public.

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