Hybrid Timber

Performative, Biophilic and Beautiful





This case study provides an overview of building hybrid curtain wall system and future opportunities for the use of timber. It will also review the benefits and hurdles inherent in conceiving and constructing a fully timber curtain wall in an industry where the standard practice is organized around the use of glass, aluminum and steel.

Pairing the use of timber with curtain wall construction provides many benefits and several challenges relative to navigating a silo-ed construction industry. Wood is higher performing compared to the thermal characteristics of aluminum and steel, and it provides significant environmental benefits. While interior product transparency declaration is becoming mainstream, the building envelope industry has done little to advance chemical transparency or reduce the use of toxic products and chemicals. These include poly vinyl chloride (PVC), used for thermal breaks and the use of heavy metals in products such as Low E coatings on glass, both known to be harmful to human health and the environment. In addition, aluminum processing carries a high embodied energy and chemical paint coating process, despite its end of life recycled potential.

In contrast, technological advancement and digital fabrication drive an impassioned and motivated timber industry towards the use of sustainable wood products within the marketplace, notably building with mass timber. The benefits of sustainable forestry are numerous, including carbon offsets and capture, reduction in waste, low-embodied energy, water based coatings, biophilic outcomes, and sustained strength and re-use.

This case study will stitch together an opportunity for cross-industry advancement and expertise to drive innovation towards higher performance, reductions in our carbon footprint, less harmful chemical dependency and beautiful biophilic outcomes.

Performance vs. Planet

We are in an age of revolutionary technology and digital fabrication. This revolution propels innovation and imaginative partnerships to realize more complex, efficient and high-performance buildings, built faster than ever

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Applied Research and Experience

The use of wood in curtain wall construction is an emerging trend, and an increasing number of examples can be referenced industry wide. I have worked on several integrated aluminum

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Team and Process

Challenges which I encountered after working on several hybrid wood systems include connecting markets and suppliers and building consensus between them, defining engineering roles and responsibilities, and effectively addressing fire

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Performance Characteristics

As in all curtain wall applications, assessing the visual and thermal characteristics of the glazing and shading systems in support of programmatic requirements of the space is another measure for

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Additional Challenges

Use of timber within Type 1 non-combustible construction within the United States can be challenging from a code perspective, depending on jurisdictions and familiarity with the use of timber within

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Why Timber?

The increased use of timber in construction is a growing and robust opportunity. The International Mass Timber Conference was held March 2017 in Portland, Oregon. The event was characterized as

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Drivers of Timber Innovation

Technological advancements now pave the way for cost effective building practices surrounding timber construction. CNC machines and computer technology are meshing and revolutionizing production, which further enables timber products to

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Future Opportunity

It’s an exciting time to be in practice with the advancement of technology and the prospect of using our natural resources sustainability at a large scale. We had the opportunity

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Rights and Permissions

2020 By the Numbers: The 2016 Summary of the AIA 2030 Commitmnt, The American Institute of Architects, Web. July 2017, http://aiad8.prod.acquia-sites.com/sites/default/files/2017-07/2016BytheNumbers-AIA2030CommitmentFinal_0.pdf.

Woodworks Wood Product Council, “Why Wood,” http://www.woodworks.org/why-wood.

The G.R. Plume Company, “Sustainability,” http://www.grplume.com/sustainability.