Now, what is Framework, you ask? Essentially it’s a look into the future of urban architecture in America, and it’s starting in Portland, Oregon. Also, one of the two winners of a design contest for high-rise buildings is built from wood, and once that 12-story building is completed, it’ll be one of the tallest wooden buildings in the United States. Hopefully, this will spark the inspiration for more similar buildings in the country.
Portland-based architecture firm Lever Architecture designed Framework to be built in the city, as in late September, the plan was named West Coast Winner of the USDA’s Tall Wood Buildings Prize competition (with support from the Softwood Lumber Board). The competition’s East Coast Winner was a 10-story design for 475 West 18th Street that will be built in New York, and each winning firm was awarded $1.5 million to fund these projects and research for similar projects in the future. At 12 floors, Framework is the taller of the two, designed as a smaller skyscraper with shops on the ground floor, offices and apartments on floors 2 through 12, and a wall of hanging plants along one side of the structure. The building will use some concrete as its foundation and will be bisected by a central core to assist in supporting its mass. The rest of the structure’s support will be performed by the — wait for it — framework of beams. Get it?
Currently, wood is becoming less of an antiquated building material, and the first true skyscrapers came about as steel-framing replaced the need for very thick outer walls to support tall structures. Also, wood burns and breaks down pretty easily; but I think you already know that… Anyway, these new structures use cross-laminated wood panels as building supports, which are made by pressing planks of wood together with the grain alternating directions, until they make one, huge beam. These types of beams are currently supporting taller and taller buildings, and safety restrictions, originally meant to prevent structures made with regular wood from collapsing, are still used, but may change once these types of new-wooden skyscrapers become more common.