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Wood: The Breakout Star of Architecture

A new Bloomberg Green Timber Town series looks at the rise and climate-boosting potential of wood, something we’ve been saying for years.  But the rise of high-rise buildings and changing building codes to accommodate (and in some cases encourage) more use of wood products, has made our old friend a bit of a media darling.

The series looks at the regulatory space, and growth in mass timber projects in the U.S.

Timber high-rises have now been proposed for cities around the country. Walmart Inc. is building what it has said will be the world’s largest mass timber corporate campus on 350 acres in Bentonville, Arkansas. Alphabet Inc.’s Google has wood buildings under construction in Sunnyvale, California.

Data from the Wood Products Council, an industry group that tracks US timber building projects, tells the same story. The group counted 69 projects constructed across the US in 2013. By December 2022, that number had grown to 755. Adding in projects still in the design phase (some of which won’t get built), the total rises to 1,677.

The lobby of the Sara Cultural Center, a 20-story timber high-rise, in the center of Skelleftea, Sweden, in December 2022. Photo illustration: Stephanie Davidson; Photo: Jonas Ekblom/Bloomberg

Over the coming months, Bloomberg Green will delve into this shift in our series Timber Town – exploring every stage in the process of making a mass timber building — and a mass timber city: from the forest to the design studio to the factory producing building components, to the construction site and, not least, to the wood-lined rooms where many people may one day live and work.


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