Mass Timber’s Rise in Construction
It seems counter intuitive to consider wood construction as up-and-coming. Mass timber modernizes one of the oldest-known materials for new ways to design and build. Covering a broad set of products, mass timber layers pieces of wood together for increased strength. Additional advantages include biophilic design, carbon reduction, offsite prefabrication, and speed of construction with a reduced workforce. Gaining traction in the US, mass timber’s applications span tech and life science, residential, and higher education spaces. Through international and local building code provisions, mass timber high-rises are growing stateside.
Holmes has consulted on 100+ mass timber projects worldwide with 80+ in the US—including the largest mass timber building in North America at completion. We meet architectural and performance objectives from structural, fire, and life safety standpoints. We also design for fabrication and contribute to product development. Reach out to Eric McDonnell and Bevan Jones to learn more.
Optimizer Tool Saves Money, Time, & Resources
Our timber building optimizer yields an optimal structural grid in record time. We’ve built this proprietary software to identify a project’s best mass timber fit. To optimize a realistic building, we layer on constraints. Inputs include pricing from the main suppliers, fire ratings, number of stories, floor-to-floor heights, depths of members, and more. The optimizer outputs framing options with wood volumes and relative structural costs, pointing us to the most economical solution. The lower the volume, the greater the financial and environmental savings.
Lowering a Building’s Carbon Footprint
Mass timber reduces a building’s carbon footprint relative to more conventional materials. To begin with, wood is a renewable resource that sequesters atmospheric carbon. These buildings are also lighter than other construction types, reducing seismic demand on the structure. Our engineers evaluate the entrained carbon in alternate structural systems and the results are clear: using wood as the primary structural system results in the lowest embodied carbon.
Designing buildings in wood is an art. There are a number of factors that we consider, from the in-service movement of the material to accommodating required tolerances and optimal exposure. When done well, the resulting systems are expressed in the architecture. The structure functions as the finish, further reducing material quantities.
Streamlining Approvals with Reliable Fire Design
Our fire engineers study the performance of mass timber construction in potential fire scenarios. Given its compressed form and large surface area, mass timber performs well with predictable charring patterns. We help project teams identify applicable mass timber construction types in relation to building massing and local code requirements. Performance-based fire design offers an opportunity to increase the number of stories and amount of exposed wood. To build our case, we leverage fire modeling, research, testing, and improved fire-protection measures. We provide the necessary safety in design while challenging some of the industry’s preconceived notions of what is possible!
Product Development Capabilities
Increasingly, we use our structural and fire engineering skills to design and optimize mass timber with a productized approach. We develop kits of parts down to the connector details—informed by our knowledge of building codes and manufacturer constraints. When our clients seek to further innovate building products and systems, we introduce our friends at Holmes Solutions.
Holmes Solutions helps design, test, and develop new products, with an ever increasing portfolio of work in mass timber. We pinpoint time and material savings that add up over repeatable rollouts. These are solutions you can trust, de-risked through evidence-based design at New Zealand’s largest commercial testing lab. The international Holmes Group has collaborated on mass timber products in the North American, European, and Asia-Pacific markets.
Specialist team of fire engineers provides advanced finite element analysis.