From Forest to Frame: Tall Wood Building Competition Winners Continue the Evolution of Timber Towers

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

Two innovative firms on each coast of the United States have been announced winners of the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, marking another step forward in the development of high-rise structures using timber frames.

From the Pacific Coast, Framework LLC — led by Oregon-based LEVER Architects and engineered by ARUP — has designed an eponymous timber skyscraper as a redevelopment of their property in the Pearl District, Portland, Ore. Meanwhile, 130-134 Holdings LLC — collaborating with SHoP Architects — has conceived a residential condominium in New York City’s Meatpacking District, its expressed timber frame set to strike a contrast with the metal and brick façades currently facing the High Line.

The 12-story Portland tower entitled “Framework” is a mixed-use tower built primarily from cross-laminated timber (CLT) and designed to house retail at ground level with offices, workforce housing, and community space above.

“The relationship of our cities to our rural communities, what we call ‘forest to frame,’ is strengthened by Framework,” reflects Tom Cody, principal for the project. “On a national scale, this project will be catalytic, leading to more tall wood buildings, driving more wood products and wood product innovation, and boosting rural economic development.”

In New York City, SHoP Architects’ condominium possesses an expressed structural frame of rich, dark timber, and pale wood cladding luxurious internal spaces. The building is set to rise alongside the High Line, not far from Frank Gehry’s IAC Building on the Hudson River.

“By choosing to develop a timber building, we hope to pave the way for a new method of urban construction that is ecologically conscious and supportive of rural economies,” said Erica Spiritos of Spiritos Properties, one of the partners for the project. “Rooted in the forests and erected in the city, this building is a celebration of habitats that are at once ancient and cutting edge, interconnected and individual, natural and technological.”

The projects by Framework and 130-134 Holdings come in a long line of recent innovations in tall timber architecture, which has been cited by many specialists as a sustainable solution to high-rise design.

Wood Innovation and Design Centre by MGA, Prince George, Canada

CF Møller made waves with its submission for HSB Stockholm’s architectural competition 2023, proposing a 34-story wooden skyscraper for Sweden’s capital city. Meanwhile, Vancouver-based MGA (Michael Green Architecture) completed the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, British Columbia. The eight-story structure became the world’s tallest modern all-timber office building upon completion last year.

Paul Keskeys Author: Paul Keskeys
Paul Keskeys is Editor in Chief at Architizer. An architect-trained editor, writer and content creator, Paul graduated from UCL and the University of Edinburgh, gaining an MArch in Architectural Design with distinction. Paul has spoken about the art of architecture and storytelling at many national industry events, including AIANY, NeoCon, KBIS, the Future NOW Symposium, the Young Architect Conference and NYCxDesign. As well as hundreds of editorial publications on Architizer, Paul has also had features published in Architectural Digest, PIN—UP Magazine, Archinect, Aesthetica Magazine and PUBLIC Journal.
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