Skyscrapers Made of Super-Strength Wood Could Transform Portland’s Skyline

How cross-laminated timber could replace concrete and steel in future Portland buildings.

By Zach Dundas October 19, 2015 Published in the November 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

1115 big picture yjxdec

Portland’s skyline might soon reunite with an old friend: wood. “We used to have massive old-growth trees,” says Thomas Robinson, principal at Lever Architecture. “Now, we have second-growth trees, but if you cut them up differently and combine them, you can make something stronger.” Those beams, called cross-laminated timber (CLT), would provide the core for Framework, a proposed Pearl District tower Robinson designed with the local developer Project. Made by compressing and gluing together plywood-like layers, CLT can replace concrete and steel as a high-rise structural material. Project’s Tom Cody notes that CLT allows for faster, less-carbon-intensive construction than concrete—and that a new use for lumber could link Portland development to Oregon’s timber country. Framework calls for 12 stories of apartments, offices, and headquarters for community banks Albina and Beneficial. In September, the design was one of two in the country chosen to split a $3 million prize from the US Department of Agriculture, intended to spur tall-wood construction nationally.

Show Comments