Microsoft Silicon Valley — Mountain View, CA

North America's Largest Mass Timber Building

 
Mass Timber Construction Lobby with Workers Silicon Valley California
Size
Office Buildings - 645,000 SF
Parking Garage - 505,000 SF
Cost
Confidential
Architect
WRNS Studio
Contractor
Rudolph and Sletten
Mass Timber Supplier
Structurlam
Sustainable Benchmarks
LEED Platinum
NetZero Water
Photographers
Blake Marvin
Celso Rojas

Microsoft expanded its Silicon Valley location with a commitment to fostering a deeply sustainable workspace community. The updated campus houses 2,000 employees across two existing, repurposed, buildings integrated with a new building. Upon its completion, the new construction comprises the largest mass timber building in North America—a Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) structure customized to meet formidable sustainability goals. This pioneering project aggressively targets LEED Platinum, Net Zero Water, and Well Building Standard certifications. Holmes provided structural engineering as well as fire and life safety consulting for the project.

For the new mass timber building, Cross-Laminated Timber was selected as a primary material due to its low carbon footprint and inviting aesthetic. Largely left exposed, CLT presents wood in its honest and pure form with a warm pallet of natural tones. CLT also expedited construction: the design team coordinated custom panel penetrations with mass timber supplier Structurlam, allowing panels to be quickly dropped into place onsite. 2,400 tons of mass timber panels were installed in just over six months.

Aerial rendering of Mountain View corporate campus
Mass Timber Atrium Space in Silicon Valley Engineered by Holmes
Exposed Mass Timber Glulam Column at Corporate Campus Mountain View
Construction workers install a craned-in CLT panel on second level f corporate campus in Mountain View

In order to support the large, contiguous floorplates that the client envisioned, Holmes designed a composite CLT-Concrete slab. The composite system allows the CLT panels to span further between beams and columns, creating more open interiors. The concrete topping slab also functions as the structural diaphragm and conceals power and data systems, integrating trades into one structural solution.

Since CLT is a relatively new building material in the US, this project involved considerable coordination with the local building authority to understand the performance of new mass timber technologies. This included gaining the jurisdiction’s approval of the building system in specific locations where a fire rating was required—predominantly assembly spaces (cafes and theaters) needing fire-rated exit enclosures to protect evacuating occupants during a fire. Holmes worked with WRNS to achieve fire ratings that also kept a consistent campus aesthetic of uncovered CLT and steel, exposing structural supports (beams and columns) where possible while embedding connection details within the wood. Holmes’ assessment demonstrated that the CLT floor and glulam columns achieve a 1-hour fire rating, and that the hidden connection details also achieve a 1-hour rating without further encapsulation.

Solidworks Model of CLT connections showing exploded axon
Solidworks models of CLT connections
Solidworks Model of CLT connections
Structural Fire Engineering Materiality Mass Timber and Steel Connections
Structural Fire Engineering: a CLT-Steel Connection
Structural Fire Engineering Thermal Finite Element Model of Heat Through Structure by Holmes Fire
under a realistic fire scenario (thermal finite element model)
Megan Stringer of Holmes Structures undertaking Construction Administration for this CLT office building.
Megan Stringer Structural Engineer on Mass Timber Site Visit in California
Hybrid Mass Timber Steel Structure with Concrete Shear Wall at Corporate Campus Silicon Valley
Holmes Structures Mass Timber Structural Engineers
Holmes team members at the topping out ceremony

Across the campus, design triggers an organic, intuitive interplay between built and natural environments. Low-lying two-story buildings complement the surrounding Stevens Creek biome without hindering expansive views of the natural scenery. Simultaneously, the campus activates new habitats, including a campus-wide living roof with carefully selected native and adapted plant species. Office neighborhoods are arranged around internal courtyards, providing moments of pause and outdoor tranquility. A network of pedestrian and bike trails winds throughout the grounds, encouraging a healthy and active workforce. Custom outdoor staircases, rooftop decks and bridges also heighten employee mobility. Interior spaces harness natural light through abundant clerestory windows and skylights.

The conscientious client sought to understand the implications of removal, rehabilitation and expansion of the existing structures onsite. Holmes explored the life cycle impacts of prospective structural systems and seismic performance objectives with the design team and client. In lieu of tearing down the entire campus and starting from square one, the client decided to give new life to two existing buildings and reduce the overall carbon impact of the project. Parts of the demolished buildings were crushed and reused under the foundations of the new CLT structure.

Mass Timber Hybrid Steel Building Under Construction Silicon Valley

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