2015: The year in wood construction

wood collage
via TreeHugger

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.

The Guardian covers tall wood construction; we cover the comment section.

wood tower new york© sHop Architects

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

Susan Jones' Seattle CLT house is a wooden wonder

exterior evening© Lara Swimmer Photography/ Exterior

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.

More in TreeHugger

CLT House by Susan Jones shows the future of sustainable, green and healthy housing

CLT house sideLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

And that slideshow of mine was the next most popular. More in TreeHugger.

And the top prize in the UK wood award goes to a fishing hut

fishing hut© UK Wood Awards
Perhaps the top prizes in competitions like this should not go to a very expensive and beautiful little folly that gets used occasionally, but that's just me. I liked some of the other runners-up better; they set a real example of what wood can do for real people.More in TreeHugger

Laurentian Architecture Laurentienne: A school built out of Cross-Laminated Timber

detail of connectionLloyd Alter/CC 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.

Cross-Laminated Timber is now made in the USA

DR Johnson press release© D. R. Johnson

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

World's tallest timber tower to be built in British Columbia

wood structure© Acton Ostry Architects

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 TreeHugger

A look at Michael Green's Wood Innovation Design Centre

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.

Workshop is built out of flat-pack cross-laminated timber, and looks like something much more

detail of extgerior© Hewitt Studios/ exterior detail

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.

More in TreeHugger

The old is new again with Nail Laminated Timber

wavy wood© Structurecraft/ Perkins + Will

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 TreeHugger

Sustainable forestry is about more than just trees: it's also about culture, history and politics

treesTreeHugger/CC 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.

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

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

2015: The year in wood construction
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