Mass Timber by Code and at Scale

Tue, Jun 4, 2024

Heartwood, courtesy of atelierjones


International Building Code Type IV Buildings, courtesy of atelierjones

The Skyscraper Museum continued its Mass Timber semester series, which brings together key voices in the Mass Timber movement to reflect on its short history, current condition, and promising future, in conjunction with the exhibition, TALL TIMBER: The Future of Cities in Wood.

Based in Seattle, architect Susan Jones is a national leader in the Mass Timber community. Established in 2003, her firm, atelierjones, completed four of the earliest mass timber buildings permitted in the United States and her recently completed project “Heartwood” marks a first of its kind in the US –  eight stories of Mass Timber workforce housing. Developed by local nonprofit-housing operator Community Roots Housing on the site of a former parking lot in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Heartwood offers 126 units, of which roughly one-third are income-restricted. It is also a prototype for tall timber affordable housing at scale.

Jones has also been a key figure in the multi-year process of drafting the International Code Council (ICC) Tall Wood Building Committee. She represented the American Institute of Architects and its 90,000 architects on the ICC Committee to change the building code to allow tall wood high rise buildings up to 18 stories. In 2021, she led a small contingent of former ICC Committee members to write and pass further changes to the Type IV-B provision and played a key role in developing test protocols. The updated code changed the allowable percentage of exposed wood ceilings and beams in Type IV-B buildings from 20% to 100%, representing benefits for cost, carbon, and biophilic beauty in 12-story tall wood buildings.

Susan Jones

Founder of the small, Seattle-based all woman-owned firm, atelierjones, Susan Jones leads a practice devoted to the idea that innovative lower-carbon construction technologies, applied at scale, can mitigate the carbon footprint of the building industry.

In 2018, Jones published Mass Timber | Design and Research. She has been a visiting design critic at numerous universities and is Affiliate Assoc. Professor of Architecture at the University of Washington. Jones was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2010.

Kristin Slavin

Kristin Slavin will join Susan in conversation after the presentation. Slavin is an architect with more than a decade of experience in Mass Timber. On the west coast, she worked with Kaiser+ Path on the development of Carbon12, the tallest mass timber building in the US at completion in 2018, and was employed by Sidewalk Labs in NYC as Associate Director - Building Innovations. She is currently Director of Product for Intelligent City, a company devoted to innovative and sustainable urban housing solutions. 


The video begins with an abbreviated introduction by Museum director Carol Willis, followed by a 48-minute presentation by Susan Jones, then a conversation between Jones and Kristen Slavin. The complete introduction by Willis is placed at the end of the video.


TALL TIMBER is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

TALL TIMBER is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.