Webcor Timber is the newest division formed within Webcor Craft, the self-perform group of San Francisco-based commercial general contractor and builder Webcor. After growing a strong internal team preparing to enter the market over the last several years, Webcor’s recent award of two mass timber projects spurred the decision to establish Webcor Timber as a discrete division, joining Webcor Concrete, Webcor Drywall, Webcor Carpentry, and Webcor Equipment.

Upon completion, one of these projects is expected to be the tallest mass timber structure in California and the third tallest in the world.

Two Webcor Timber Projects

The tallest mass timber project in the state is currently under construction at 1510 Webster Street in Oakland. The 16 stories of mass timber on a three-story concrete podium will serve as affordable housing developed by oWow, a startup developer that has garnered considerable attention for its approach to the housing crisis.

Webcor Concrete was contracted for the podium, after which Webcor Timber will begin work installing mass plywood columns and floor panels. The columns weigh about 600 pounds each, and the floor panels, which measure about 10 by 40 feet, weigh 9,000 pounds each. Work on the foundation begins in about two weeks, with mass timber installation set for March. The team believes that with Webcor Craft’s union workforce of carpenters, laborers, and operators, setting mass timber panels and columns will be business as usual for Webcor Craft’s newest group, effectively leveraging the proven track record of safety and productivity that have long defined Webcor Craft’s self-performed work.

The next Webcor Timber project will be Webcor’s second for Skyline Builders. “It’s a retrofit of an office building at 828 Brannan in San Francisco,” says Webcor Craft Superintendent Matt Miller. “We’ll install 67 cross-laminated timber deck panels over a structural steel frame composed of steel beams, girders, and columns.” Concrete work has already begun, with the timber scheduled for installation beginning in February 2023.

Gaining Expertise

Over the past two years, the nascent Webcor Timber team composed of Senior Vice President Allison McCue, Senior Construction Manager Ryan Fischer, Superintendent Greg Arnold, Project Manager Gabrielle Vartis, Senior Construction Manager Mike Gilmore, Project Director Matthew Faith, and Superintendent Matt Miller, has been soaking up knowledge by attending countless webinars and conferences, researching all aspects of the mass timber systems, and meeting with countless vendors and suppliers to gain knowledge and insight into the rapidly growing mass timber market.

“There are several different markets, from residential and office buildings to a variety of other types of structures, in which clients are looking to go towards mass timber not only for its aesthetic but also the speed at which construction can be completed – roughly 30 percent faster than conventional steel or concrete construction – as well as the inherently lower embodied carbon that comes with choosing a renewable resource,” Matt says.

There also are several mass timber structural systems, including post-and-plate (the oWow project’s system), which uses mass timber columns and point-supported mass-timber floor panels.

The 828 Brannan project is a hybrid system with structural steel and mass timber floor panels. In addition, there is a post-and-beam system that employs glulam columns, glulam beams, and mass timber floor panels.

Beyond Installation

The team’s rapidly growing expertise enables Webcor Timber to do more than self-perform installation. “We can help with procurement and value engineering along the way,” Matt explains. “We bring to the table the ability to work hand-in-hand with the designer, the engineer, and the owner to figure out the best use of the space and the best use of mass timber for their specific project needs.”

The timber team has been speaking with Webcor’s clients about their capabilities. They have also been meeting with mass timber suppliers to establish Webcor Timber as a preferred installer throughout California.

Chris Plue, Webcor executive vice president and Webcor Craft’s senior leader, is excited about Webcor Timber’s prospects. “Timber is an emerging system that leverages Webcor’s strengths. Few contractors share our skill level around safe production, sequencing, site logistics, and incremental improvement. It’s exciting to be getting in on the ground floor knowing that we have a chance to be among those leading the industry.”

Prospective clients will derive an advantage from the group, which is the only California-based mass timber group with projects in California. To date, only out-of-state contractors have built mass timber projects in California.