Lobby rendering. Image: LEVER Architecture
Portland, Ore. — The Framework Project, LLC received approval for a building permit allowing construction of the first wood, high-rise structure in the U.S. and marking a major milestone for the project. The permit, awarded by the State of Oregon and the City of Portland, designates Framework, a 12-story-tall wood resilient building planned for Portland’s Pearl District, as a “shovel ready” project marking a landmark decision for the U.S. construction industry.
“Receiving a permit is a critical juncture for Framework and demonstrates the feasibility of using wood to build high-rise buildings in the U.S.,” said Anyeley Hallova, developer, project^. “With our path now clear to start building, Framework will start to unlock the demand for mass timber products at all scales justifying new investment into rural manufacturing and job creation.”
Framework, stemming from a unique collaboration between project^, Home Forward, Albina Community Bank, and Beneficial State Bank, aims to develop a pioneering model for a sustainable urban-rural ecology by promoting sustainable building practices and economic opportunity in rural Oregon and ultimately across the U.S.
The official permit approval substantiates this goal by approving a regulatory pathway for Framework and, potentially, similar projects within the U.S. The building permit for Framework was approved following completion of a stringent Performance-Based Review process that included a series of fire, acoustic and structural tests and oversight by an expert peer review team. The tests, which were carried out over several months in 2016, have proven that buildings constructed with mass timber including Cross-laminated Timber (CLT) and Glu-laminated timber (Glulam) can perform to fire and life safety requirements and in some cases, exceed current standards.
“Portland is built on creative innovation and the trailblazing spirit as exemplified by the groundbreaking work of the Framework Project, said Portland Mayor, Ted Wheeler. “Thanks to the tremendous work of the Framework team, Portland’s Pearl District will proudly stand as the site of the first skyscraper made from wood in the United States – a true technological and entrepreneurial achievement”
A forthcoming collaborative study — 2015-2017 Advanced Wood Product Manufacturing Study for Cross Laminated Timber Acceleration in Oregon & SW Washington, Oregon BEST (+8 Partners), 2017 — led by Oregon BEST assessing the potential demand for mass timber in the US construction market estimates that labor income generated in Oregon from the total impacts of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and related mass timber manufacturing could reasonably be between $338 million and $1 billion annually, with the potential to create a total (direct, indirect, and induced) of approximately 5,800 to 17,300 jobs for the state.
“Projects like the Framework building present a new opportunity for Oregon that we are perfectly suited to take on,” said Governor Kate Brown. “Oregon’s forests are a tried and true resource that may again be the key to economic stability for rural Oregon, expanding opportunity for communities hit hard by the decline of the natural resource economy. The Framework building shows that we can use sustainably harvested timber in a sustainable way to act as a catalyst for economic development through the creation of timber and manufacturing jobs in rural economies.”
Seismic tests conducted on behalf of the Framework Project at Portland State University and at Oregon State University have been completed to validate Framework’s resilient structural design, which goes above and beyond the basic life safety requirements of the building code. This included full scale tests on the projects primary beam-to-column connection, along with tests on the Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) shear wall panels to be used in the completed building. Structural seismic damage following a major earthquake is expected to be limited to replaceable “fuses” which should allow for the building to be quickly repaired and limit downtime relative to conventional structures.
“The innovations in wood construction that are part of the design of the Framework building will help change how America builds in the years to come”, noted Steve Lovett, CEO of the Softwood Lumber Board, a lumber industry organization which contributed $1 million to the R&D phase of the Framework project as part of the U.S. Tall Wood Building Competition. “Modern wood based building systems create opportunities to increase the use of wood products which is better for both the environment and rural communities,” he added.
Fire tests also provided proof that a mass timber assembly using CLT and Glue-laminated timber (Glulam) can be used safely as high-rise construction materials within the US, and meet stringent fire code requirements. In addition, the Framework Project has completed extensive fire testing and computer modeling to demonstrate that select areas of wood in the Framework building can be exposed, adding to the overall aesthetic. Acoustic testing was also utilized to develop a solution that achieved the required sound insulation between apartment units. This is an innovative departure from other high-rise projects around the world which typically cover all of the wood product with drywall to meet fire and acoustic requirements.
“It is no accident that a first-in-the-nation project like Framework would be built in Oregon. Oregon’s unique building code system encourages innovation while ensuring projects comply with robust safety standards. We are proud to partner with local governments and industry on this and other groundbreaking projects.” said Mark Long, Administrator, State of Oregon Building Codes Division.
When construction is complete, Framework will be the first high-rise building made from wood in the U.S; the tallest mass timber building in the U.S; and the tallest post-tensioned rocking wall project in the world.
“The Framework project is literally a laboratory for the revival of building with mass timber, an investment for which Oregonians will be grateful for many generations to come,” said Valerie Johnson, President of D.R. Johnson. “The rural-urban divide in Oregon has existed too long. We hope our young people (in Douglas County) will now grow up believing there’s a future for them doing this type of work. It is inspiring for all of us to know that all together we are providing a more environmentally friendly, lower carbon emitting, renewable and sustainable product for mass timber construction in urban areas.”