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World's tallest Mass timber building, opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2022 6:02 pm    Post subject: World's tallest Mass timber building, opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Reply with quote

World's tallest, with 25 stories and 86.56 m tall, Mass timber building, opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Construction photos of the Ascent tower when it structurally topped out in December 2021. Image courtesy Thornton Tomasetti/Twitter
A historic milestone in the use of mass timber as a construction material was achieved as Korb + Associates Architects’ aptly-named Ascent tower opened on July 15, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is now officially the tallest mass timber building in the world, surpassing Norway’s 18-story Mjøsa Tower, Brumunddal, by a mere 1.2 m.

Having 25 stories and a total height of 86.6 m, the tower, it had a price tag of $80 million to construct and will provide Milwaukee’s East Town neighborhood with a total of 259 apartment units built in partnership with structural engineers Thornton Tomasetti.

It is interesting to note that Ascent is now Milwaukee’s second mass timber residential development after the nearby Timber Lofts and will soon be joined by another 15-story structure called The Edison, which is set to open next year.

Image courtesy Thornton Tomasetti

The use of this highly sustainable material has already been used in projects in Oregon and Virginia and also others in Europe and Canada. The list of mass timber designs around the world is growing, and
are slowly supplanting the use of more conventional (and often carbon-polluting) materials in the residential and office tower typologies.

Image courtesy Thornton Tomasetti

Some Details of the Structure
The mass-timber residential floors are constructed above a five-storey concrete parking garage using a system of glulam beams. Columns support cross-laminated timber floors, with two concrete cores providing lateral stability.

Post-tensioned concrete beams transfer loads from the residential floors to the concrete garage structure below.

The structure is supported on concrete-filled steel pipe piles, minimizing material quantities and reducing installation time.

Fire Testing by US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory
In 2019, Ascent was awarded funding by the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.  The department’s Forest Products Laboratory then worked on world’s first three-hour fire-testing program for glulam columns (Glulam is a manufactured wood product composed of layers of lumber glued together).

The burn test proved that oversized, yet unprotected, glulam columns do not lose structural integrity since outer layer charring protects internal layers. In fact, the lab’s glulam columns performed so well, they qualified for a three-hour fire resistance rating. Testing like this supports future code changes. The success of FPL’s three-hour burn test has opened the doors to constructing new US mass timber buildings.

Cross-section of two charred but intact cross-laminated timber beams after a three-hour fire test at the Forest Products Lab in Madison, Wisconsin. USDA Forest Service photo by Franklin Pemberton.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat quotes Tim Gokhman, chief executive of New Land Enterprises, who said: “We didn’t set out to break records. We just wanted to create the best experience within the built environment for our residents. Mass timber is faster, more precise, lighter, more sustainable, more beautiful and supports our commitment to biophilic design.”

Sustainability of Mass Timber Buildings
Mass timber uses small and medium-sized trees to create beams, columns and building components. Removal of these trees from over-populated forests supports healthy forest management and reduces wildfire risk. It also creates new markets for wood products and promotes a more sustainable future.

Wood buildings store tremendous amounts of carbon and reduce the fossil energy needed for construction over alternatives like concrete, steel and aluminum. They are also proving to be increasingly popular with builders due to the ease, speed and relative quiet of construction compared to steel and concrete high-rise construction.

Forest Products Lab scientists are also working with the Ascent team to support life cycle assessments, important tools that allow designers to do direct comparisons on the environmental footprint of wood buildings versus concrete. Life cycle assessments quantify the environmental impact of all phases of a building's life cycle, which allows designers, builders and consumers to understand a product’s long-term impact on the planet.

Milwaukee architect Korb & Associates designed Ascent, with New York engineer Thornton Tomasetti providing structural design services for New Land Enterprises and Wiechmann Enterprises.
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