Mass Timber: The Sustainable Solution for the Design Industry

February 06, 2023|35 Minutes
Walmart Home Office rendering
Walmart Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas is the largest mass timber campus project in the United States.

Delivering sustainability and structural benefits, mass timber is an emerging building material that is revolutionizing the construction industry. Made from layered wood products that are bound together into large panels and beams, mass timber can be used to construct mid- and high-rise buildings up to 18 stories tall. As the mass timber industry continues to grow, knowledge sharing around best design and construction practices is critical.

This episode of the Gensler Design Exchange podcast features insights from leaders who are at the forefront of exploring mass timber design and construction. Guests include architects Erik Barth and Taylor Coleman of Gensler, who share their experience designing some of the earliest mass timber projects in the U.S., as well as engineer Ian Boyle, of Fast + Epp, who discusses structural considerations and opportunities, and Erica Spiritos, of Timberlab, who explains mass timber fabrication.

Listeners will learn about significant differences in designing with mass timber compared to other building materials, gain tips for developers considering mass timber construction, and discover opportunities for its application across various regions and markets. The podcast also considers the vast potential of mass timber to advance sustainability in the built environment.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Engage key players like engineers and manufacturers early in the design process.
  2. Consider mass timber’s cost competitiveness due to reduced construction timelines.
  3. Design mass timber buildings to highlight the material, rather than hiding it.
  4. Consider mass timber’s sustainability benefits from using a renewable local resource.
  5. Mass timber is well-suited for areas with high construction labor costs or challenging soil or seismic conditions.
Erica Spiritos
Erica is the VP & Director of Preconstruction at Timberlab, a fabrication company whose mission is to accelerate the mainstream adoption of mass timber in the U.S. and commercial construction market. She is based in Portland, Oregon.
Ian Boyle
Ian is a Principal at Fast + Epp, an international structural engineering design firm dedicated to reducing carbon in the built environment. He has worked on several mass timber projects across North America and is working with Gensler on the Walmart Home Office campus.
Taylor Coleman
Taylor is a project architect in Gensler’s Dallas office and has served as project manager for numerous First United Bank projects in Texas and Oklahoma. Whether designing the first mass timber building in Texas and bringing a new resilient building methodology to benefit a new region, or working on everything between automotive retail, iconic cultural establishments, and complex corporate campuses, he uses research to grow his knowledge base on new systems and structures. Contact him at .
Brandon Larcom
Brandon is a global leader of Gensler’s Product Development practice. As Co-Director of Product Development, he specializes in business development, identifying future design industry trends, and licensing for global product rollouts. Brandon currently hosts and co-produces the Gensler Design Exchange podcast, facilitating a dialogue between design experts, creative trendsetters, and thought leaders to discuss how Gensler is enhancing the human experience through the world of design. Contact him at .