December 2015

Regular announcements about tall wooden buildings, government grants and wood products research is changing perceptions about wood’s potential all across the globe. Growing recognition of timber’s environmental benefits as well is fueling a renaissance in the construction of multi-storey structures using wood. With 17 tall wood buildings (7 storeys or taller) having been built over the past 5 years, serving as demonstration projects, building officials, designers, contractors and consumers are more than confident in the safety of these buildings.

We start the issue off with an in-depth look at the Bullitt C enter in Seattle, Washington, which has been described as the greenest commercial building in the world. Significantly, at the heart of this state-of-the-art structure lies a heavy timber frame – a traditional building system that is increasingly being used in new and innovative ways. The architects wanted a sustainable building that would last 250 years and this is just one of the reasons why they chose wood.

Launched at the inaugural Dubai Design Week, the MENA Design Outlook study was commissioned to capture the design landscape across the MENA region with a focus on five major countries which are key contributors to the region’s design sector. According to the report, the design industry in the MENA region surpassed USD 100 billion in 2014 and is expected to continue expanding at an average growth rate of 6 percent. With the furniture and interior design sectors accounting for the widespread use of timber, we take a closer look at the findings of the report.

Timber was also widely celebrated, in particular American hardwoods, at the Dubai Design Week. A series of installations and product displays across Dubai highlighted the growing demand and widespread acceptance of American hardwood species by the design community in the UAE at the annual citywide event, which aims to place Dubai on the map as the emerging design capital of the world. Whilst great strides are being made in wood technology, it is the creativity and inspiration of the design community that will ensure wood realizes its full potential. Overall, the Dubai Design Week provided a unique and exciting opportunity to see some of the very best creative talent and served as a platform to celebrate design and champion all the good work that is being done using timber.

This issue also throws the spotlight on the winners of the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, who were announced earlier this year in New York. The two winning development teams were granted a combined USD 3 million in funding to support the development of tall wood demonstration projects in New York and Portland, Oregon. Next-generation lumber and mass timber products have enabled longer wood spans, taller walls, and higher buildings, and continue to expand the possibilities for wood use in construction, as evident in the winning proposals.

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