Milwaukee — Developer New Land Enterprises, Korb + Associates Architects, and the Milwaukee office of engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti unveiled the cutting-edge design for a proposed 21-story, 410,000 square-foot, mixed-use mass timber tower in downtown Milwaukee. At 238 feet tall, Ascent is poised to become the tallest timber structure in the Western Hemisphere. Currently in the planning stages, construction is anticipated to begin in fall 2019. The team was invited to present at the prestigious Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat Conference in Dubai on Oct. 20 to share the plans with architects, engineers and planners from around the world.

“In addition to activating a long vacant corner, we are developing an environmentally connected, world-class apartment building with unmatched features, amenities and design aesthetics,” said Tim Gokhman, director of New Land Enterprises. “Mass timber is an amazing building tool. Its carbon sequestration and renewability properties are coupled with the stunning aesthetics of natural wood beams. It’s a true marriage of form and function.”

As our cities continue to grow taller and material resources become more precious, the demand for new technologies and sustainable materials continues to rise. The advantages of mass timber are well documented, but only recently have U.S. building codes opened the door for this revolutionary high-rise structural system.

Mass timber performs as well as, or better than, traditional materials in fire, earthquake and wind conditions. The laminated timber beams, slabs and columns in mass timber structures can be one of the world’s greatest man-made storehouses of CO2, absorbing as much carbon dioxide as produced by 2,100 cars or saving enough energy to power 1,000 homes per year. The building industry is a leading contributor to carbon emissions, and the use of mass timber as a construction material can lead to actual positive change in the environment.

Ascent will top a growing list of large-scale projects embracing the mass timber movement. This is the second mass timber development by the New Land Enterprises and Korb + Associates Architects team; the first is a seven-story office building in downtown Milwaukee set to break ground in early 2019.

“The modern use of mass timber’s modular construction offers a competitive and sustainable alternative to the typical structural materials used in high-rise buildings, such as concrete and steel,” said John Peronto, a Milwaukee-based principal of Thornton Tomasetti. “Recent technological developments in manufacturing of wood have also led to wood products that outperform conventional sawn lumber, which allows engineers today to expand the boundaries of what timber structures can be used for.”

While Ascent will become a new landmark for Milwaukee’s urban landscape and push the city toward a more sustainable future, the tower is designed to blend seamlessly with its surroundings.

“We believe in the power of architecture as an engine for positive change,” said Jason Korb, founder and principal architect of Korb + Associates. “Ascent will set the benchmark for future mass timber developments nationally, as it combines environmentally friendly and renewable materials with thoughtful, modern, and quality architecture.”