Designing with Mass Timber

Designing with Mass Timber

Designing with Mass Timber

Holst has long been a leader in the industry utilizing wood construction in circumstances where steel or concrete might be the "easier" method. We believe that with clever application of the building code and careful, coordinated design, wood provides the right mix of strength, durability, cost, and beauty.

One North

Meeting high standards in sustainable sourcing.

One North transformed a brownfield site that had been unoccupied for 40 years with two new mass timber buildings designed to maximize energy efficiency, reduce waste and consumption, and share resources with the community. The development offers over 85,000 square feet of mixed-use space across both buildings, which are strategically located to create a new 14,000 square foot central courtyard for both tenant and community use.

One North is a project where the outward appearance would indicate a steel or concrete structure due to the complexity of the window apertures and curvilinear forms. Instead, the primary frame is glulam posts and beams with a lock deck floor structure and conventionally framed wood walls. Judicious use of steel for lateral loads and light gauge framing for the exterior apertures outside of the thermal envelope minimized the carbon footprint of the overall structure, minimized thermal bridging through the envelope, and simplified construction.

One North’s unique curves are complimented by its equally striking cedar siding, a feature that also reflects the project team’s commitment to exceeding industry standards. One of the client’s goals was to know precisely where the siding material was coming from, reaching beyond standard certifications. The owner felt strongly about avoiding using old-growth timber and that the financial benefit of harvesting the wood should go to the local community. To achieve this goal, our project teams personally visited a private co-op of landowners in Western Washington to hand-select sustainably harvested cedar as well as meet the logging and milling teams and ensure quality and durability. This commitment to our client’s vision, as well as the project’s goals, is part of what made the One North development such a unique, sustainable, and successful endeavor.

One North has received several awards including being named Sustainable Project of the Year by the Portland Business Journal and being recognized as a Regional Excellence Winner in the Wood Design Awards.

Julia West

Reaching new heights with CLT in Portland.

Julia West is a 12-story cross laminated timber (CLT) building that will be located on a 5,000 square foot site in Portland’s West End. The tower houses more than 50,000 square feet of housing, amenities, and services within its small footprint, providing 90 units (60 studios and 30 one-bedroom) of Permanent Supportive Housing.

Once built, Julia West is likely to be the first high-rise CLT building in Oregon. The wood structure benefits the environment with a lower carbon footprint than concrete or steel and contributes to the warm, natural material palette on the interiors—an important aspect of trauma-informed design. Wood ceilings and glulam columns are left exposed on the building's interior, contributing to a warm material palette inspired by the local ecology of the Pacific Northwest. This extends into the units where natural light is prioritized to help create a calm and comfortable urban living experience.

East County Library

Infusing the Pacific Northwest forest into our civic spaces.

Multnomah County Library's new East County Library located in Gresham, Oregon will have a major presence in its neighborhood, providing a place for residents to access resources that are currently not available in East Multnomah County. The building’s design looks to blend into the natural landscape and patterns of the Pacific Northwest, while creating a new landmark and beacon that will serve community members for generations to come.

The Pacific Northwest is synonymous with the forest, and the new East County Library looks to emulate the sense of wonder, refuge, and exploration that our forests evoke. Inspired by the intelligence of native architecture in its use of natural materials, mass timber forms the structure of the building from columns to roofline, matched by a wood-filled interior of paneled walls, storefronts, and balustrades.

The forest is imprinted in our minds by the ground and its understory, the verticality of the trees, and the light-dappled canopy above. As such, the library is grounded in a concrete base of alternating smooth and board-formed textures, with glue-laminated columns rising towards a roof plane that spans over the edges of the façade, outlined by a grid of timber coffers. A two-story curtain wall spans between columns, emphasizing the vertical motif, with glazing infilled by grooved, earth-hued concrete panels. The pair of entries highlight this double-height space, emerging from modest-height vestibules into light-filled, perspectival entry lobbies. The center of the library is a clearing in the forest, where north-facing clerestories perforate the canopy with light. This double-height Living Room is ringed by a wood screen along the second story that wraps into a circular staircase, a bridge between ground and canopy.

While a regularized grid and varied verticality delineate the mass of the building, this rhythm is broken by a playful series of sloping curves along the pedestrian pathway that define an array of program elements that link inside and out: mural-wrapped children’s play spaces, a glass-ribboned auditorium, outdoor reading areas, and a bridge over below-grade parking. Each curve initiates a flow through the site that blends moments of transparency into the building with moments to gather, engage, or rest among a landscape of native trees and plantings.

Mass Timber Incubator

Forming a functional center of activity for mass timber in Seattle.

Holst has recently joined the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) as a consultant to provide facilitation and capacity-building services to create a Mass Timber incubator nonprofit. This project is being led by Erica Spiritos, a Portland-based mass timber expert and sustainable business visionary. Holst's Inclusive Design Facilitator Hannah Silver will coordinate and facilitate five workshops with partners from within the Mass Timber and architecture/engineering/construction community in general, higher education and community colleges, Tribal government, organized labor, disadvantaged and displaced communities, public agencies, and other key communities and essential businesses. The group will develop organizational policies and strategies, assist in the creation of the mechanism for receiving future funding, and identify key partnerships with the ultimate goal of beginning a functional center of activity for Mass Timber in Seattle.

We’re excited to be a part of this process that will harness the power of a new growth industry with the potential to reduce carbon outputs, bridge the economic gap between rural and urban economies, and include communities who are excluded from job and business opportunities. Structured and exploratory conversation, policy planning, economic analysis, and community building in Mass Timber locally will ensure that Mass Timber brings along all participants to enjoy the mutual benefits.

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