Wood City: Timberizing the City’s Building Blocks

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building categories, cross-laminated timber, mass timber, value chain, urbanism


"Wood City" applies mass timber engineering to the 19 building categories that essentially shape our built environments, otherwise financialized as real estate products by Wall Street. Suburban offices, fast-food restaurants, metal warehouses, big-box grocers, garden apartments, single-family houses, hotels, self-storage facilities, assisted living facilities, strip-shopping centers, etc. constitute 75% of the built environment. Given that the US will double its built environment in just one generation coupled with the urgency to develop low-carbon futures, what if cities were built from the only construction system sequestering carbon and engineered to be “energy positive” – wood? Real estate value chains are undergoing transformations in sectors like fuel retail, fast food, grocery, and logistics, while new interest from venture-capital is hybridizing housing, hospitality, healthcare, and the senior services markets. Innovations in timber-engineered buildings to date have been associated with signature projects involving tall buildings and cultural institutions. Alternatively, Wood City outlines a design research agenda for mass timber through the pattern languages of ordinary building sectors already undergoing novel mixings of space, services, technologies, and experiences.