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ICC Takes A Closer Look At Tall Wood

In late March, the International Code Council (ICC) will announce the members of its new Tall Wood Ad Hoc Committee. The purpose of this group – which will include manufacturers, architects, engineers and code officials – is to explore the building science of “tall wood” structures that use Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), LSL and LVL in framing buildings taller than six stories. 

LP® SolidStart® LSL is just one of many products that could benefit from the committee’s recommendations. The first formal code changes (if any) would take effect in the 2021 International Building Code.

“Other nations have already seen the benefits of tall wood construction – the low carbon footprint, ease of construction and reduced construction time,” says American Wood Council vice president Kenneth Bland, P.E. in a recent news article on AWC.org.

Last year’s winners of the U.S. Tall Wood Building competition have already received $1.5 million each to get started.  The Framework in Portland, Oregon, will be a 12-story blend of urban and rural ecology design, bringing retail space and workforce housing to the city’s Pearl District. The 475 W. 18th project in New York City’s Chelsea district will be a Tall Wood residential condo building.

The people guiding these projects often get overly passionate and poetic in describing their ventures. “Rooted in the forests and erected in the city, 475 W. 18th will be a celebration of habitats that are at once ancient and cutting-edge,” says Erica Spiritos of Spiritos Properties.

Will we ever see a Tall Wood version of Trump Tower? That’s not likely, since many engineering experts feel that Tall Wood towers may never climb higher than 35 stories. Trump Tower has 58 floors – and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai soars 163 stories.

But if Tall Wood projects can capture just 15 percent of the North American market, it would add up to 2.4 billion board feet of wood being used each year. The ICC’s new Tall Wood committee may help reshape the construction industry in ways we can’t yet imagine.

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