The timber industry in the United States has long been limited to small-scale projects by local building codes. But as the more permissive 2021 International Building Code gets adopted by states, taller structures are being allowed across the country. Investments like Canada’s funding to encourage the use of mass timber in affordable housing is helping mass timber evolve from a trend to an enduring reality. In addition, the advances in seismic, fire, and structural research critical to timber construction are becoming more inclusive of the sustainable management needed to create healthy forests. We’ve updated our annual map of the schools, organizations, and manufacturers leading the way in mass timber research and development. These groups in Canada and the U.S. innovate quickly, which is why AN worked with the Mass Timber Institute, a global leader in sustainable mass timber research, and the U.S. Forest Service’s Wood Innovations Program to validate this list.
(A full map with locations is available in AN’s digital Winter 2021 Timber Issue, available here)
Prince George, British Columbia
The University of Northern British Columbia’s Master of Engineering (MEng) in Integrated Wood Design is a unique, intensive yearlong program that focuses on modern wood structures. The MEng program is housed in the Wood Innovation and Design Center in downtown Prince George and features the Wood Innovation Research Lab, in which researchers test next-generation materials. The lab’s design meets Passive House standards.
Vancouver, British Columbia
The University of British Columbia is home to the 18-story Brock Commons Tallwood House. This student housing project was supported by the Canadian government’s Tall Wood Building Demonstration Initiative. The facility not only houses students but serves as a living lab where researchers study the long-term performance of mass timber structures.
At Washington State University’s Composite Materials & Engineering Center (CMEC), students get hands-on experience with the design, testing, fabrication, and construction of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. CMEC has partnered with resin suppliers and construction companies, such as Katerra, to design, certify, and test mass timber systems for new and existing markets.
Oregon State University’s (OSU) College of Forestry is home to the TallWood Design Institute (TDI), a collaboration between OSU’s College of Engineering and the University of Oregon’s College of Design. At TDI researchers and practitioners drive research and education on advanced timber products manufacturing, design, and construction. TDI is working on projects focused on durability, serviceability, adhesives, seismic and structural performance, the fire performance of mass timber, and more. The Oregon Forest Science Complex, which incorporates extensive use of CLT, comprises OSU’s George W. Peavy Forest Science Center (featured on page 24) and A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory.
The Advanced Research in Timber Systems (ARTS) research group is part of the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Alberta and is led by Professor Ying Hei Chui, who holds the NSERC Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Engineered Wood and Building Systems. The ARTS group focuses its research on the next generation of mass timber construction with new connection techniques. Through the NSERC IRC program, the group is investigating the use of mass timber panels as lateral load resisting systems in balloon frame construction and developing design procedures and construction details for mass timber panels. In addition to the IRC program, the ARTS group is researching mid-rise light wood frame building systems and the development of innovative engineered wood products.
Working in collaboration with industry partners and other schools on this list, researchers at Colorado School of Mines are using a $1.7 million National Science Foundation grant to develop mass timber structures designed for seismic performance in earthquake-prone regions. With the goal of proving that sustainable timber buildings are just as safe as those built with more conventional materials and with higher resilience standards, the group has successfully tested a two-story building on the University of California, San Diego’s “shake table” and plans to test a full-scale 10-story structure in 2022 as part of the NHERI Tall Wood Project.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Publicly owned and funded by the provincial government, Forestry Innovation Investment is British Columbia’s wood products marketing agency. The agency works to sustain the Canadian timber industry by developing new market segments and export markets, advancing wood use and construction technologies, and marketing outreach to position forest products.
This nonprofit trade association represents and regulates engineered wood manufacturers in North America and promotes innovative solutions and improved practices.
Softwood Lumber Board (SLB)
West Linn, Oregon
The SLB is an industry-funded initiative established to promote the benefits and uses of softwood lumber products in outdoor, residential, and nonresidential construction. Programs and initiatives supported by the SLB focus on increasing the demand for finish and structural softwood lumber products in the United States as well as mass timber and hybrid building systems.
West Linn, Oregon
Think Wood provides commercial, multifamily, and single-family home design and build resources to architects, developers, and contractors. In addition to its online educational resources, including e-books and continuing education units related to tall wood and mass timber, the organization identifies and profiles projects and professionals using North American softwood products in innovative ways.
The Forest Business Network (FBN) helps businesses that manufacture, design, and sell products made from hardwood or softwood. FBN offers timber consulting services based on its expertise in “underutilized timber and woody biomass,” which include business assistance, grants, and custom reports.
Penticton, British Columbia
(CLT, glulam, GLT)
Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation has manufactured components of buildings like Brock Commons Tallwood House at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the Carbon12 building in Portland, Oregon. With its partner Walmart, Structurlam is opening a plant in Conway, Arkansas, to support the retailer as the exclusive supplier of mass timber products for Walmart’s new home office campus.
Abbotsford, British Columbia
(CLT, DLT, NLT, glulam beams, LVL, LSL, PSL)
StructureCraft is an engineer-led construction firm that creates a multitude of mass timber products, including its signature DowelLam, the first all-wood panel manufactured without glue or nails in North America. Its team includes engineers of record, computational designers, fabricators, and builders. Bringing craft traditions to high-tech construction, StructureCraft partners with architects, owners, and general contractors across North America and elsewhere to engineer-build timber and hybrid structures.
(Timber product processing)
According to the U.S. Forest Service, CutMyTimber is among the top timber product processors in the United States—a growing subsector in the field of manufacturing. With offices in Portland and North Vancouver, Canada, the company uses CNC machines to create customized products and building systems for projects around the world.
(Mass plywood panels)
Freres Lumber’s mass plywood panels (MPPs) are a composite, veneer-based engineered wood product that can be produced using 20 percent less wood than CLT panels. With its MPPs and mass plywood lams, Freres Lumber is certified to produce every structural element for a multistory mass timber structure. Specializing in small-diameter wood for engineered wood products, Freres now has an Environmental Product Declaration and a life cycle assessment that substantiates its closed-loop, environmentally sustainable manufacturing processes.
(Glulam, LVL, parallel strand lumber)
Rosboro is the largest producer of glulam beams in North America. Other than its diverse range of Douglas fir glue-laminated timber products, it also produces sawn lumber and studs made from western regional tree species. All manufacturing takes place in two locations in Oregon: Springfield and Veneta.
(CLT panels, glulam beams)
DR Johnson was the first company in the United States to obtain American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certification to manufacture CLT panels. An affiliate company, Riddle Laminators, has been making glulam beams from Douglas fir and Alaskan yellow cedar for over 50 years.
(CLT, glulam beams)
Vaagen Timbers uses high-tech milling machines to produce products at its Colville, Washington, facility, as well as at two other sites in Usk, Washington, and Midway, British Columbia. It uses lumber-scanning technology and a portable HewSaw machine to handle underutilized small logs.
(CLT panels, glulam beams)
Katerra operates a 250,000-square-foot mass timber manufacturing facility in Spokane, Washington. Its catalog of products, which are developed and tested in collaboration with the Composite Materials & Engineering Center at Washington State University, includes CLT panels for walls, floors, and roofs.
From two facilities in Boissevain, Manitoba, and Edmonton, Alberta, Western Archrib designs and manufactures glue-laminated structural products, including beams, columns, studs, and decking. It also provides custom fabrication with 3D-modeling software for CNC framing, steel connections, and finishes.
Columbia Falls, Montana; Dothan, Alabama
SmartLam produces CLT panels for floors, walls, roofs, and elevator shafts, and supports its products with design, engineering, and consulting services. The company owns two facilities in Montana and a Southern pine lumber factory in Dothan, Alabama.
Euclid manufactures interlocking cross-laminated timber (ICLT) for walls and roofs. Unlike CLT, ICLT panels are produced without the use of fasteners or adhesives, relying instead on tongue-and-groove and dovetail joints.
South Slocan, British Columbia
(CLT panels, glulam beams)
Kalesnikoff Lumber is opening a Can$35 million plant in South Slocan, British Columbia. The 110,000-square-foot factory is the 81-year-old company’s first foray into mass timber.
The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas anticipates groundbreaking this fall for the 50,000-square-foot Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation designed by Grafton Architects & Modus Studio. The school is also working with the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities on a series of academic research conferences under the rubric of “LAMINATE” which bring together 25 schools of architecture, engineering and construction science from the US and Canada for collaborative work. Research grants from the Forest Products Laboratory and the Weyerhaeuser Foundation have spurred LCA study of Adohi Hall and prototyping affordable timber, wood housing, and construction for rural communities in south Arkansas respectively.
The LU_Lab [Littoral Urbanism Lab] at the School of Architecture, University of Miami hosted its first international symposium in February titled, Wood And Everything After. The symposium followed an advanced architecture design studio on Mass Timber focused on upstream contributors and the integration of regional forests and manufacturing processes into construction ecologies. The LU_Lab’s director, Assistant Professor Christopher Meyer, AIA, is also leading an academic/practice partnership with Miami-based design firm Atelier Mey that just broke ground on the first CLT structure in Miami. The partnership of Atelier Mey and the LU_Lab aims to cultivate solid wood practices using regionally grown wood and manufacturing to serve the State of Florida building needs. The LU_lab is currently planning its next mass timber initiative and will be hosting an on-site workshop during the erection of Miami’s first CLT structure summer 21’ in conjunction with the Florida Forestry Service.
Thunder Bay, Ontario
A department within Lakehead University’s Faculty of Natural Resources Management, the school’s forestry program focuses on the technology behind contemporary forest management. Currently, the university is collaborating with the province of Ontario by mapping trees of the region’s woodlands.
Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined (TIMBR(R)) is a fourth-year undergraduate studio at Mississippi State University established in 2016 and funded in part by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the Mississippi Forestry Foundation, and Weyerhaeuser. The TIMB(R) studio asks students to study the benefits of innovative wood product design and building methods, and students compete to design timber structures across the country. Additionally, the class works with the Sustainable Bioproducts major within the College of Forest Resources to develop and test new products.
The Southern Pine Design Lab is a joint venture between the architecture, engineering, and forestry departments that will research how mass timber technologies can be used to incentivize removal of hurricane-downed timber and the performance of steel-CLT hybrid mid-rise structures, among other things. Professor David Kennedy is working alongside Forestry Architecture Fellows on a portable mass timber solar kiln that will be used to help rural communities derive economic value from their resources and learn more about mass timber. The School of Architecture’s Rural Studio is researching thermal and energy effects of mass timber and has collaborated with McGill University on a recently published paper on mass timber breathing walls, construction of two mass timber test pods, and a current project that couples timber with thermal mass for buoyancy-driven ventilation.
In 2017, Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture completed a new building, with an entire wing constructed of cross-laminated timber, that houses an atrium with a wood-burning fireplace, a classroom and lecture hall on the ground floor, the School’s library on the second floor and a green roof and terrace. The school, opened in 2013, places an emphasis on both timber architecture design and hands-on knowledge of wood craftsmanship in its curriculum. The overall building, designed by LGA in Toronto, won a 2017 Ontario Wood WORKS! Wood Design Award and a 2018 OAA Design Excellence Award. The McEwen School of Architecture hosted the first International Wood Educators Conference in September 2019, with keynote speaker Brian MacKay-Lyons from Halifax, among others in the world of wood design.
The Arbour is an upcoming 10-story academic building on George Brown College’s campus that will be made of mass timber sourced within Canada. Construction for The Arbour is set to begin this year and, once complete, the building will house the Tall Wood Research Institute, a forum for students and faculty to research and develop ideas related to mass timber construction.
The University of Toronto has plans to build a Tall Wood Academic Tower that will reach a height of 14 stories. Designed by Patkau Architects and MJMA, the timber-and-concrete hybrid tower will serve as a mass timber demonstration project in Canada’s largest city. The country’s federal and Ontario governments provided initial funding for this initiative on the main campus in downtown Toronto. The tower is expected to be completed in 2022.
Clemson, South Carolina
Through the Wood Utilization + Design Institute, Clemson University’s engineers and architects are innovating with mass timber through several grant-funded and studio projects, including those focusing on highway noise barriers, disaster relief housing, and rapid military-building construction. In late 2018, the university’s school of architecture patented the result of multiyear research into Sim[PLY], a wood construction system that the school has already used to build multiple structures.
Researchers at Virginia Tech have been experimenting with mass timber for more than a decade. In 2018, faculty and students at the School of Architecture + Design designed a CLT train-watching tower as part of a tourism development plan in Radford, Virginia. Their project was completed in September 2019 and recognized by the AIA Blue Ridge design awards.
The University of Ottawa’s Department of Civil Engineering is home to a research program dealing with the response of mass timber systems to the effects of extreme loading such as wind storms, earthquakes, and blasts. For the past fifteen years, introductory and advanced timber design courses have been offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Within the Building and Construction Technology program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, researchers received National Science Foundation and state funding to model and test advanced angle-ply CLT panels made with underutilized tree species Eastern hemlock and Eastern white pine. The research is conducted inside a CLT building designed by Leers Weinzapfel Associates featured on page 10.
New Haven, Connecticut
The Yale School of Architecture offers a joint degree with the university’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies that focuses on sustainable architecture alongside ecology and policy. The two schools have also partnered with local architecture firm Gray Organschi to support the Timber City research initiative, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additionally, a number of interdisciplinary consortia within Yale have established platforms for mass timber research, including the Yale Building LAB and the Yale Carbon Containment Lab.
The Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center based at the University of Maine is working with regional stakeholders to promote construction of mass timber buildings, promote CLT manufacturing through development of a business attraction package, support high performance grades from SPFs lumber, and conduct analysis of carbon impacts of mass timber construction.
The MTI, located within the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto, is a partnership of academic institutions, government, and industry. The MTI’s mandate is to position Canada as a global leader in mass timber research and education and in the export of sustainable mass timber products. Its research and teaching interests include sustainability and society; building science and constructability; indigenous participation and reconciliation; manufacturing, design, and supply chains; trade and export diversification; and analytics and data synthesis.
The Canadian Forest Service is an arm of the Canadian federal-government department Natural Resources Canada. Operating from a central office in Ottawa and six other research facilities throughout the country, the service fosters environmental leadership, sustainable forest management planning and policies, and ongoing scientific research.
Much like its American counterpart, the Canadian Wood Council represents wood product manufacturers, develops design and technical standards, and works to ensure its resources are available to professional and academic communities.\
The Forest Products Association of Canada represents the country’s paper, pulp, and wood industries nationally and internationally. They specialize in environmental leadership, forestry management practices, product innovation, workforce advocacy, and other economic and trade efforts.
Wood WORKS! was created by the Canadian Wood Council to increase the use of wood construction for mid-rise and tall buildings in Canada. Wood WORKS! is a resource for education, training, and technical support for building tall with timber.
FPInnovations, active in Quebec City, Montreal, and Vancouver, Canada, is a nonprofit timber construction research institute covering topics like forestry management and construction products. Currently, FPInnovations has a team devoted to advanced timber building systems, finding efficient acoustic and structural solutions for projects of every scale.
The AWC is the leading voice for America’s structural wood products industry. In addition to advocating for public policies that benefit the wood industry, the AWC promotes opportunities for wood products and mass timber in codes and regulations. It also provides American National Standards Institute–accredited design specifications along with education and training on proper wood design and construction. The AWC is partially funded by the Softwood Lumber Board.
AF&PA advances public policies and funds research to support the production of wood products in the U.S., particularly pulp, paper, and packaging. It also supports wood manufacturing across the globe and promotes sustainable growth of the U.S. forestry industry. It has collected data on the resilience of mass timber to promote acceptance of wood building systems.
As part of its mission to manage and protect national forests and grasslands, the USFS works with public and private agencies to build markets for sustainable wood products. One such product is CLT produced from dead and dying trees, the harvesting of which could help control the spread of forest fires. The Wood Innovations Program provides funding for projects utilizing CLT and other wood materials.
WoodWorks provides architecture, engineering, and construction professionals with free technical support related to the design and construction of commercial and multifamily wood buildings, including mass timber structures. WoodWorks also helps educate professionals about wood construction through events, publishes technical resources, and connects developers and project teams through the WoodWorks Innovation Network. WoodWorks is partially funded by the Softwood Lumber Board and the U.S. Forest Service.
Phoenix, Illinois; Lufkin, Texas
(CLT panels and CLT mats)
Formerly known as Sterling Lumber Company, Lion Lumber is a 70-year-old family company that manufactures cut-to-length lagging lumber, industrial lumber for transportation project shielding, and pallets and skids for shipping and unloading. Specializing in CLT, Lion Lumber also offers design and build services for custom work. Last year, it opened a massive new facility in Lufkin, Texas, where it continues to make its signature TerraLam mat.
Texas CLT is an investor group that reopened the defunct Arkansas Laminating mill last year in Magnolia, Arkansas, where it produces CLT mats made from Southern pine and Douglas fir.
(Glulam, sawn timber)
Timber Systems installs, fabricates, and designs mass timber structural components. With a wide array of timber products, its product catalog includes glulam and solid sawn timber, decking, bridges, and shelters.
St. Thomas, Ontario, and Ripon, Quebec
(CLT, glulam, NLT, CLIPs, Boxx panels)
Element5 is Canada’s newest and Ontario’s only CLT and glulam manufacturer. The company produces the widest-format panels of any CLT plant in North America. It also manufactures several value-added, CLT-based components including hollow-core floor and roof panels and Cross-Laminated Insulated Panels (CLIPs), which offer a prefabricated, high-performance building envelope that can be quickly assembled for rapid building enclosure.
Established in 2002, Sauter Timber is the first wood component joinery service to set up shop in North America. The organization expanded its offerings in 2010 to include CNC services for mass timber products like CLT and glulam, as well as other timber frame components, SIP panels, and hybrid home and log home components.
(I-joists, CLT panels, glulam beams)
Nordic Structures sustainably manufactures industrial-grade CLT panels, I-joists, and glulam beams. The company has expertise in engineered wood products and mass timber construction with vertical integration from forest to structure.
(Glulam, hybrid timber beams, fabrication)
Structure Fusion is a Canadian company that specializes in wood construction. Acting as a structural engineer, the company partners with Simonin to design and manufacture adapted wood products, including its patented Sapisol and Resix systems.
Walpole, New Hampshire
(CLT, NLT, glulam, fabrication)
Bensonwood collaborates with architects and engineers to build small and large projects in mass timber and CLT from suppliers like Nordic Structures. A special division uses off-site manufacturing to build timber frames with CNC milling machines that are assembled by hand.
Texas CLT recently announced plans to open a new plant in southeast Tennessee, near Chattanooga, where it will produce structural CLT.
(CLT panels, glulam beams)
LignaCLT Maine is LignaTerra’s Northeastern offshoot, which aims to become the state’s first CLT and glulam manufacturer. The company had planned to open a 300,000-square-foot facility in Millinocket, Maine, last year but instead has set its sights on Lincoln.
SmartLam North America
In 2018, SmartLam announced plans to open a factory in Maine in hopes of becoming the second producer of CLT in the state, after LignaTerra. The project has been delayed because of funding issues.