Florida Structural Engineers Association
  • Home
  • News and Information



Has the 'Mass Timber Revolution' Come to the US South?

By Jeff Peters, PE, WoodWorks

If you follow architectural news, you know that wood building design is evolving beyond its traditional boundaries, with projects like the 8-story Carbon 12 in Portland, the 7-story T3 Minneapolis, and the new Design Building at UMass Amherst, one of the most advanced mass timber buildings in the country. It's been called a mass timber revolution, but are we seeing evidence of that in the US south?

The answer is yes, with one caveat: in the south, the trend seems broader. Designers here haven't traditionally used a lot wood for commercial and larger multi-family buildings—but that's changing as more people recognize the performance capabilities of wood systems.

I say this because I'm out there every day, providing technical support that makes it easier for architects and engineers to design wood buildings, and my colleagues across the country are doing the same. (WoodWorks provided support for all three of the buildings noted above.)

In this region, I'm seeing more designers leveraging the aesthetic of heavy timber for commercial buildings and the economy of wood framing to achieve quality mid-rise projects at less cost. For example:

Blaze Pizza – Lake Buena Vista
When I met an architect with Morris Architects, he expressed an interest in learning more about WoodWorks and wood design. I presented a lunch and learn to the firm, which started thinking about the potential of mass timber for a restaurant project. I connected them with a local mass timber design and construction specialist, and the result is this beautiful flagship location. Complete


Cortland Westshore – Tampa
Although allowed by code, officials were resistant to a Type III wood-frame building, fully sprinklered. To assist Baker Barrios Architects, I provided a letter outlining a code path that allowed for approval. The information was shared with other architects at the firm to help gain approval for their own projects. Under construction

Home Street Apartments – Jacksonville
I've been working with Fisher and Koppenhafer Architecture to support the design of a luxury wood-frame apartment building. Topics have included construction type, fire walls, and fire- and acoustic-rated assemblies. Under construction

There are signs that mass timber is also trending upward in the south. Hines, the developer of T3 Minneapolis, broke ground on T3 Atlanta earlier this year. Designers are also proving keen to learn about products and applications, as evidenced by their attendance at our mass timber-focused events. More tangible, perhaps, is the fact that a manufacturer recently announced that it will open a plant in Alabama to produce cross-laminated timber (CLT) from Southern pine.

If you're considering mass timber for a project, my contact information is below. I can bring your team up to speed on the design process, help resolve technical issues, point you to key resources, and introduce you to suppliers—all at no cost to you.

Are you Leveraging Our Resources?

Breaking Convention with Wood OfficesThe WoodWorks website offers a wealth of information for architects, engineers and others involved in the design of wood buildings. Highlights:

Case study – Breaking Convention with Wood Offices – Includes examples of different wood systems and discussion of issues such as construction type, heights and areas, grid, lateral systems, cost, and more

Solution paper –  Accommodating Shrinkage in Multi-Story Wood-Frame Structures – Describes procedures for estimating wood shrinkage and provides detailing options that minimize its effects

Ask an Expert – How is MEP accommodated in exposed mass timber buildings? – Look for a new Ask an Expert at the start of each month!

While we're on the topic of resources, don't forget to sign up for our next (free) webinar – Modular Construction: Tomorrow's Multi-Family Buildings at Today's Price – December 12 at 1 p.m. EDT.


Designing a wood building? Ask us anything.

For free project support in Florida, Alabama, Georgia-South and Mississippi, give Jeff a call at (386) 871-8808 or email jeff.peters@woodworks.org.
Jeff Peters
✔︎ Allowable heights and areas/construction types
✔︎ Structural detailing
✔︎ Design and detailing for moisture
✔︎ Fire resistance and acoustical-rated assemblies
✔︎ Efficient + code-compliant lateral system design
✔︎ Alternate means of code compliance
✔︎ Energy-efficient detailing

For projects in other states, contact a regional director near you or email help@woodworks.org


Questions and Comments Please contact Sara Guthrie at (407)347-4962 Email:  fseadirector@flsea.com


                                                                             Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software