Touch Wood

A mass timber building that is enduring in form and alluring in facade

June 6, 2019

“The entire timber structure of T3 was intentionally left exposed and illuminated with interior lighting directed up to the ceiling. At night, the illuminated wood will glow through the exterior openings”

Candice Nichol, MGA Associate
The texture of the exposed NLT is beautiful in its imperfections. Though its exterior is clad in weathering steel, its interior is simply the timber framework.

Think of ancient Greek temples and exquisite constructions from stone to marble comes to mind. What was not said is that Rome, before being brick, had been of wood. In fact, the civil architecture in great ancient cities were formed especially for family housing with untreated wood.

The rise of tall wood buildings questions the preference for wood as building material. Technologies like nail-laminated timber (NLT) have enabled high-rises to be realised with an environmental track record superior to reinforced concrete or steel.

The T3 office building in Minneapolis, designed by Michael Green Architecture (MGA) and architect DLR Group for real estate firm Hines stands testimony that wood is a formidable building material and can maintain a modern frame.

When Hines approached MGA with this exciting project they envisioned T3 as a unique model of new-office building; an opportunity to offer a modern interpretation of the robust character of historic wood, brick, stone, and steel buildings with the additional benefits of state of the art amenities, environmental performance, and technical capability.

A ground-level “social workspace” with wood furniture, booths and a feature stair will also allow the public to experience the building.

T3 – short for “Timber, Technology, Transit” is a seven-story, 220,000-square-foot is the largest mass timber building in the United States. The design objective for T3 was to build on the character of the past with a modern perspective. As businesses look to new competitive models for attracting staff, the goal for T3 was to provide a warm and inviting environment that would attract and retain employers and employees.

Speed & Sustainability

Over 3,600 cubic meters of exposed mass timber columns, beams and floor slabs recall the heavy timber construction of the building’s predecessors. T3’s modern technological approach uses engineered wood components (chiefly glulam and nail laminated timber, NLT) for the roof, floors, columns and beams and furniture. A significant amount of the lumber used to fabricate the NLT comes from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. These modern materials bring the warmth and beauty of wood to the interior, and promote a healthy indoor environment for occupants.As a result of its wood structure, T3 was erected at a speed exceeding conventional steel-framed or concrete buildings. In less than 10 weeks, 180,000 square feet of timber framing went up, averaging 30,000 square feet of floor area installed per week. It is also lighter than comparable steel or concrete structures, reducing the depth and extent of excavation and foundations. Additionally, the embodied carbon in the building’s wood structural system is lower than that found in conventional buildings found throughout most of downtown Minneapolis and the North Loop.

Another “social workspace” with overhead timber features and booths.
Stairwells and steps in timber.

Enduring Architecture

The building’s aesthetic success can also be attributed to the mass timber construction. Candice Nichol, MGA Associate and T3 Project Lead, says “the texture of the exposed NLT is quite beautiful. The small imperfections in the lumber and slight variation in color of the mountain pine beetle wood only add to the warmth and character of the new space.”  Extensive exterior glazing at every level as well as views into the ground level social workspace with wood furniture, booths, and a feature stair, allow the public to experience the building. The use of wood is celebrated throughout the building. “The entire timber structure of T3 was intentionally left exposed and illuminated with interior lighting directed up to the ceiling,” Nichol says. At night, “the illuminated wood will glow through the exterior openings.”A pioneer in this building type, T3 has broken new ground and is perhaps a prototype for future commercial mass timber buildings.

Visitors entered Alfredo Häberli’s Future Kitchen installation at LivingKitchen 2019 through the vegetable garden, seen here on the right. It is a symbol of the need for a more aware approach to food.
Accentuate Administrator

Author: Accentuate

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