Is it time to start building wooden skyscrapers in the U.S.?

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Over the past few years, architects across the world have taken part in the resurgence of wood in different ways, but the most noteworthy trend might be the creation of wooden skyscrapers. While architects in Australia, Canada, England and Norway have begun dotting their city skylines with timber, American architects are slower to follow suit – only a handful of tall wooden buildings are in the works.

Over the past few years, architects across the world have taken part in the resurgence of wood in different ways, but the most noteworthy trend might be the creation of wooden skyscrapers. While architects in Australia, Canada, England and Norway have begun dotting their city skylines with timber, American architects are slower to follow suit – only a handful of tall wooden buildings are in the works. 

Andy Hehl, Kebony US manager, recently discussed the benefits of wooden skyscrapers in an article for Sustainable Chicago Magazine.

Environmental Benefits

Wood is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternative to steel and cement, which emit dangerous levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Despite safety concerns, wood performs exceptionally well in any environment, and many wooden structures exceed the fire standards set by steel and cement buildings. Wood’s lightweight nature also makes it easier to transport.

Psychological Benefits

When used in schools, hospitals, office buildings and more, wood presents several positive psychological benefits. For example, students who attend schools with wood interiors have proven to experience lower stress and anxiety. Introducing wooden skyscrapers to new communities in the U.S. has the potential to mirror these effects and increase the health and wellbeing benefits for residents and employees in cities.

Financial Benefits

Cross-laminated timber has become a popular product when building wooden structures, not only because of its strength and size, but because it is just one-fifth the weight of concrete and therefore less expensive. In addition, wooden structures take less time to build, which also reduces the price of construction projects.

As a longstanding hub for innovation, the U.S. has the means to adopt this trend from coast to coast. With access to sustainably harvested forests, top architects and communities that appreciate green building, this revolutionary movement is within reach.

Photography: Moholt Student Village by MDH Arkitekter

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