The world’s tallest mass of wooden structures is open in downtown Milwaukee. It’s healthier for the planet. you too.


Construction of Ascent, a mass timber apartment on 700 E. Kilbourn Ave in downtown Milwaukee, continues.  The 25-story building will be the tallest mass timber structure in the world. It will open this summer.

Construction of Ascent, a mass timber apartment on 700 E. Kilbourn Ave in downtown Milwaukee, continues. The 25-story building will be the tallest mass timber structure in the world. It will open this summer.

Milwaukee: Get ready to enter the register.

AscentThe second of the two large timber structures in the city will open its doors to the inhabitants on July 15, 2022.

However, unlike Milwaukee’s first mass timber structure, Timber loft At Walkers Point, this $ 80 million building will be 25 stories high (284 feet) and will knock out Norwegian buildings to become the tallest mass wooden building in the world. Myosa Tower in the first place.

Located on 700 Kilborn Avenue in downtown Milwaukee, the 259-unit building offers 1 bedroom (starting at $ 1,715 / month), 2 bedrooms (up to $ 4,450 / month), and 3 bedroom apartments (up to $ 7,860 / month). To do. ..

more: The 15-story downtown Milwaukee apartment project, which uses a large amount of lumber construction, has a groundbreaking plan for spring.

more: The construction of Mastimber Ascent, a rare apartment tower in downtown Milwaukee, has achieved an important milestone.

Compared to typical high-rise buildings built using concrete and steel, ascent-like structures use treated wood supplied directly from wood.

And, like the forests from which they come, large numbers of wooden structures actively remove carbon (CO2) from the atmosphere and trap it inside the structure as long as the building stands.

Moreover, large numbers of wooden structures are not only healthier for the planet. They are also healthy for the inhabitants. the study It suggests that stress is reduced just by being in a room with exposed trees. This is an effect that appeals to our “biophilia hypothesis,” the innate desire to be surrounded by nature.

Milwaukee participates in global dialogue

Alex Timmer, an assistant professor of architecture and urban planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said large wooden structures like Ascent have attracted unexpected attention to Milwaukee.

“Currently, the conversation about wood is happening worldwide,” explained Timmer. It is unusual for this type of building to be built in Milwaukee, as the most notable large amount of timber structure is in Europe.

Ascent serves as a test of future technological advances in the architecture. Instead of asking “How do such buildings occur in Europe?”, You can start asking “How do such buildings occur in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and globally?” I can do it.

By assessing how Ascent works in our city, we talk more about mass timber as an industry as a whole, not as a temporary example in one city, one state. The door may open.

Construction is consumption

A team of collaborators from Timmer Libion, WoodWorks And that Forest Products Research Institute We are currently working on collecting Ascent’s lifecycle data, an effort to measure the overall environmental impact of the building.

Timmer explained that he is analyzing Ascent’s “reified carbon” and “reified energy.” This is a measure of the amount of energy required to build a building and the amount of carbon produced during construction.

“Architecture is almost purely consumption and consumes energy,” he said.

This is important to consider whenever a new building is built.

Experts predict that demand for new homes will double by 2060, requiring 2.4 trillion square feet of new homes. This is equivalent to adding the entire New York City to the world every month for the next 40 years. 2021 Global ABC Global Status Report..

According to the same report, the construction industry accounts for 47% of the world’s CO2 emissions each year. Also, about 22% of the world’s CO2 emissions come from concrete and steel, the two biggest criminals in the construction industry.

“The embodied carbon has the most direct impact, so it’s the most important thing to work on as an architect,” he said. You can change the way new buildings are built and turn the industry into one of reuse., discount And quarantine..

This starts with a large amount of timber.

Large amounts of lumber are “easy”

Large timber structures correspond directly to the embodied carbon, as there is much less on-site construction. In the case of Ascent, according to the building website, it was estimated that the building process required 90% less vehicles and 75% less workers to complete the work. This was done in a quarter of the time.

Large numbers of wooden buildings not only reduce the embodied carbon, but also draw CO2 directly from the atmosphere and store it in the structure for decades.

According to CD Smith Construction Co., the company has signed a contract to build Ascent. “A large number of 18-story wooden buildings have negative carbon dioxide emissions, which is equivalent to removing 2,350 cars a year from the road.”

“Large timber is one of the really really important tools that architects have today. It’s easy,” says Timmer.

Carefully and sustainably procure timber

Large timber structures use significantly less steel and concrete, making them “greener” than regular skyscrapers.

That does not mean that these materials are completely nonexistent. Steel and concrete are still needed for Ascent foundations, parking lots, pools, stairwells, and elevator shafts.

This is part of the trade-offs that exist when designing structures. As Timmer explained, buildings are rarely created using a single material. Functionality must be a factor.

“You’re not going to make a pool out of a lot of lumber, right?” He said. “The interesting thing about embodied carbon (to deal with) is the ability to make informed choices about the materials used.”

Timmer explained that it’s important to look for Forest Stewardship Council Criteria before purchasing wood products. This group has standardized indicators that identify whether a material has been harvested in a sustainable manner.

“It’s just as great as a large amount of timber isolating carbon, if you’re destroying a tree farm to produce it, you’re preventing it from being a sustainable product.” He said. “As long as those trees are covered in sustainable forests and harvested in a sustainable way, we may have renewable resources and sequester increasingly embodied carbon. can do.”

Ascent redefines building code

Large amounts of timber represent the future of sustainable architecture, but building codes are not keeping up with technological advances.

Timmer explained that current US building codes stipulate the safety standards that buildings must meet. These obligations initially hampered the ratio of height to timber for Ascent due to fire safety concerns.

Ascent was otherwise exempt from this code. Performativity Not measures Normative thing.

The developers have shown that when a large amount of timber burns, it burns only on the outside, creating a “char zone”. This char zone protects everything in it and does not damage the structure. “It’s completely safe,” he said.

In Ascent’s example, Timmer predicts that building codes will evolve and become more sophisticated.

“We will be better at building buildings and will understand them better,” he said. “This means that we can ask more about this particular type of construction, and we can ask more about it from an environmental point of view.”

Building a structure like Ascent is part of the experiment with building any building, Timmer said. “You learn a lot through the process of construction. It’s the actual construction, the actual building that teaches you, just as we do a huge amount of testing on these materials in the laboratory. “

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This article was originally published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee’s massive wooden structures have become one of Norway’s largest buildings in the world