As structural engineers, we play an important role in shaping the built environment – from developing structural designs with a sensitivity for architectural aesthetics to choosing the best material types for those designs. Versatile, attractive, and sustainable, the potential of mass timber in new construction across the United States is capturing the imaginations of many leading building professionals and sustainability advocates alike.
Cross Laminated Timber: CLT
Glue Laminated Timber:
Beam or Column: Glulam
Floor or Roof Slab: GLT
Structural Composite Lumber:
Laminated Veneer Lumber LVL
Parallel Strand Lumber PSL Laminated Strand Lumber LSL
Oriented Strand Lumber OSL
Mechanically Laminated Decking: Nail Laminated Timber: NLT Dowel Laminated Timber: DLT
Mass Plywood Panels: MPP
Whether building tall structures or sprawling long-span complexes, the use of mass timber (see adjacent list of potential components in a mass timber structure) enables the development of high-performance buildings that are exceptionally strong, have a lower carbon footprint than concrete, are lighter and stronger than steel, and are able to achieve similar fire resistance ratings.
In contrast to light-frame timber construction, mass timber construction uses a variety of pre-engineered products comprised of laminated layers of wood (typically held together by glue, dowels, or nails) that create strong, structural load-bearing elements like large panels, posts, and beams.
The AEC community in the US is now beginning to embrace mass timber as a feasible building option for architecturally expressive and resilient structures. As a safe, viable alternative to steel and concrete, mass timber construction will also be increasingly used in taller buildings, particularly now that wood construction can span beyond six stories to mass timber hybrid systems of more than 18-stories. The International Code Council (ICC) has approved 17 changes to the 2021 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code, allowing for mass timber buildings to be constructed this high.