Timber Tower Research Project

In 2009, Simpson Strong-Tie participated in the NEESWood Capstone Test, which was the final experiment in a multi-year study to test and evaluate the seismic performance of various wood-framed buildings. The Capstone Test was a six-story apartment building constructed and tested at the E-Defense test facility, located in Miki, Japan. More information about the Capstone Test is available here.

NEESWood Capstone Test. Photo credit: Simpson Strong-Tie.
NEESWood Capstone Test. Image credit: Simpson Strong-Tie.

I only mention the NEESWood testing because I thought six-stories was pretty tall for wood-framed construction, since U.S. building codes limit us to four or five stories in wood. I recently came across a research project by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) for something just a tad taller than that. Looking to minimize the carbon footprint by using timber as the main structural material, SOM published a report for the design a 42-story, 405-ft. tall building. The solution utilizes mass timber for the main structural elements with reinforced concrete at highly stressed areas. The project used the Dewitt-Chestnut Apartments, a 42-story reinforced concrete structure built in 1965, as the benchmark building.

SOM's
SOM Timber Tower. Image credit: Skidmore, Owings, Merrill website.

Abstract for the Timber Tower Research Project along with links to the full report and sketches are on SOM’s website.

So, what do you think of a 42-story wood-framed building? Let us know by posting a Comment.

– Paul

Paul McEntee

Author: Paul McEntee

A couple of years back we hosted a “Take your daughter or son to work day,” which was a great opportunity for our children to find out what their parents did. We had different activities for the kids to learn about careers and the importance of education in opening up career opportunities. People often ask me what I do for Simpson Strong-Tie and I sometimes laugh about how my son Ryan responded to a questionnaire he filled out that day:

Q.   What is your mom/dad's job?
A.   Goes and gets coffee and sits at his desk

Q.   What does your mom/dad actually do at work?
A.   Walks in the test lab and checks things

When I am not checking things in the lab or sitting at my desk drinking coffee, I manage Engineering Research and Development for Simpson Strong-Tie, focusing on new product development for connectors and lateral systems.

I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and I am a licensed Civil and Structural Engineer in California. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, I worked for 10 years as a consulting structural engineer designing commercial, industrial, multi-family, mixed-use and retail projects. I was fortunate in those years to work at a great engineering firm that did a lot of everything. This allowed me to gain experience designing with wood, structural steel, concrete, concrete block and cold-formed steel as well as working on many seismic retrofits of historic unreinforced masonry buildings.