2015: The year in wood construction
It was a breakout year for wood construction, with cross-laminated timber becoming a big deal in the USA and Canada. We are big fans of wood, for a lot of reasons. Here are the biggest stories about wood that we covered in 2015.
This wasn't the most popular story but is certainly a good introduction to wood. Really, almost every misconception one could have about the stuff was to be found in the comments section of an article on tall wood in the Guardian. I read them all so that you don't have to, and had some fun with it, summarizing the virtues and addressing the perceived problems, from deforestation to fires. And of course, a recent comment on the post says "I should be ashamed to publish such drivel on a website called "treehugger.com." People still don't get it. More in TreeHugger
By far the most popular post on wood buildings was this slideshow of architect Susan Jones' house, using her photos. I described it earlier in my own slideshow photographed during construction:
It's so TreeHugger; the house is relatively small at 1500 square feet, it's on an impossible triangular lot that really limits the design options, it's almost passive house, it's covered in one of my favorite materials, Shou sugi ban, but most importantly it is built of Cross-laminated timber (CLT), one of the most important innovations in wood construction of the last few decades. It is also going to be stunningly beautiful.CC BY 2.0
And that slideshow of mine was the next most popular. More in TreeHugger.More in TreeHuggerCC BY 2.0
All the slideshow haters are going to come after me, but here is another with the big pictures of beautiful wood looking heroic. It's a new architecture school in Sudbury, Ontario designed by LGA architects and with a big part of it made of CLT. More in TreeHugger.
Cue up Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA, because you can finally get structural CLT that's made in Oregon. It's about time. More in TreeHugger
It's a mid-20th-century modern tower built out of the 21st century material, CLT, "A real mix of a classic design from the past and the material of the future." More in TreeHuggerEma Peter via MGA
Architect Michael Green has been at the forefront of the new tall wood construction, doing great research and great buildings. TreeHugger covered his Wood Innovation Design Centre (WIDC) at the design stage, but now it is complete, and is now the tallest wood structure in North America. And as this first photo shows, wood is not only a renewable local resource, it is very beautiful. More in TreeHugger.
Really, it's not much of a building, a box of a warehouse and workshop. It's one of those "B" buildings that don't normally get the ink or pixels or much attention. They usually don't even get architects. But letting Hewitt have a go at it, making it out of CLT portal frames and panels turns it into something more: a model of how to build those B buildings with care, with sustainability in mind, and with style. They deserve it and so do we.
There is more to massive wood than just CLT; there's good old mill decking, with the fancy new name and great new design options and now known as Nail Laminated Timber or NLT. if you are doing a simple span, NLT does the job just fine, It's a lot cheaper, can be made by anyone with a hammer and has been in the building codes forever. Learning about it was a revelation. More in TreeHuggerCC BY 2.0
Finally, this post was not among the most popular of the year, but for me it was one of the most important. As a guest of the Rainforest Alliance I got to visit Haida Gwaii, he islands off the coast of British Columbia that used to be called the Queen Charlotte Islands. I learned about the Haida people and got a tour of their sustainable forestry operation. It was a truly wonderful, amazing experience. What a place; what a people. More in TreeHugger.
UPDATE: A faithful reader tells me I left out an important building and he is right, this should have been in the roundup:
Factory built of wood is energy-efficient, healthy, and beautiful© Ema Peter Photography via Hemsworth Architecture
We often joke about how passive houses tend to be boxy, and consultant Bronwyn Barry coined the hashtag #BBB or "boxy but beautiful." Factories are generally boxy but this one, designed by John Hemsworth, is truly beautiful. More in TreeHugger