Market realities confine proposed timber tower to the drawing board

Sources: Softwood Lumber Board, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

Champions of a 12-story structure built with cross laminated timber assemblies have placed their project on hold indefinitely. A mixed-use residential and commercial design, the Framework tower was pegged for the Portland, Ore., Pearl District; billed as the first U.S. timber high rise; and, secured state and city building permits in 2017.  

The development, design and construction team behind the project noted that the decision resulted from “changing market conditions over the past two years including inflation, escalating construction costs, and fluctuations in the tax credit market.” Prospects for the tower were boosted in 2015, when Framework landed a $1.5 million U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize in a U.S. Department of Agriculture and Softwood Lumber Board competition. It supported what the Framework team called “a rigorous, two-year research & development phase and performance-based review process. The result was global breakthroughs in structural, fire, and acoustical performance testing that proved tall mass timber buildings can comply with U.S. building code and paved the way for mass timber construction across the country.”

“The innovations in wood construction that are part of the design of the Framework building will help change how America builds in the years to come,” adds Softwood Lumber Board Chief Marketing Officer Cees de Jager.

A second Tall Wood Building Competition was among provisions in the Timber Innovation Act, which proponents aimed to advance on Capitol Hill via the 2018 farm bill. The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and allied interests prevailed in keeping the competition and other TIA provisions out of the farm legislation, and remain firmly opposed to the USDA and other federal agencies assisting in the promotion of any building material or method over viable competitors. 


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