First Wood High-Rise to Be Built in Oregon

New project, called Framework, paves the way for other wood buildings by creating new building code precedents.

Beneficial State Bank has teamed with project^, a values-based commercial real estate developer, and Home Forward, the public housing authority for Multnomah County, Ore., to create Framework. This project will be the nation’s first wood high-rise and is designed by LEVER Architecture.

The building “seeks to develop a model for a sustainable urban ecology by promoting social justice, sustainable building, and economic opportunity thus yielding broad advancement of these objectives at a national scale,” according to a press release.

Approval for a high-rise wood structure requires an alternative approach to the prescriptive building code involving the City of Portland and State of Oregon, which building officials called a “performance-based path.” This process includes the testing of engineered wood products to meet equivalencies of a steel and/or concrete conventional building.

According to the press release, “The fire, structural, and acoustic research and testing to support Framework, in part with the funding from the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, is intended to provide a permitting pathway for future tall wood buildings by clearing specific permitting hurdles related to fire and life safety and structural requirements.”

Framework is expected to be a leader in sustainability by providing the construction industry with a new way to build and demonstrating a measurable reduction in carbon emissions and increase in carbon sequestration through new and sustainable supply chains. Additionally, it plans to incorporate locally-sourced materials and using significantly less energy than a traditional building through envelope design, natural ventilation, and integrated green roofs.

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) will be used for the floors and the Lateral Force Resisting System (LFRS), in conjunction with glue-laminated beams (GLB) and glue-laminated columns (GLC). The structure will be supported on a conventionally reinforced concrete mat foundation.

Framework has also chosen enhanced seismic performance criteria of economically repairable for the 1:500-year design basis earthquake and little to no damage for 1:100-year serviceability earthquake. Through this, they aim to provide an economic advantage in terms of reduced repair, replacement costs, and potential insurance costs.  The team plans to achieve this criteria with a lateral force-resisting system that includes post-tensioned rocking CLT shear walls, with “Low Damage Design” features pioneered in New Zealand. These features include a pre-determined rocking plane at the base of the walls, replaceable energy dissipating fuses, special detailing at the floor-to-wall connections, and the self-centering characteristics of the post-tensioning system.

Framework is expected to have energy savings of 60 percent compared to code, water savings exceeding 30 percent compared to code, and the project will result in 1,824 tons of CO2 offsets (based on industry averages for North America responsibly sourced wood). That’s equivalent to taking 348 cars off the road for a year.

This project is supported by a $1.5 million award from the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition. The focus of the competition is to promote use of domestically-sourced engineered wood products in the United States in order to increase demand from domestic rural lumber mills, which will in turn boost their respective rural economies.

This mixed-use building will be 148 feet tall and will be made up of 12 floors. The ground floor will include a bank and retail, five floors will be used for offices, five floors will be residential, and there will be rooftop amenities. The residential portion will have 60 total units and include studio apartments, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments, all zoned for affordable housing. Construction on the project is slated to begin fall of 2017 and finish late 2018.

Erin Schroeder is a freelance writer and editor based in St. Charles, Mo.