Man-made climate change – caused by more than a century of burning fossil fuels and releasing CO₂ into the atmosphere – threatens our cities and our collective future. Wood, one of humanity’s oldest construction materials, offers a path to a more sustainable built environment. An emerging system of building materials called Mass Timber is being used in ways that avoids the “carbon cost” of traditional high-rise construction in concrete and steel. And wood is a renewable resource when forests are responsibly managed.
The technology of Mass Timber relies on manufacturing wood products in factories that are much bigger, stronger, fire resistive, and more durable than common lumber or plywood. Architects and builders use computers to design and precisely construct or cut giant puzzle pieces of structure that are transported to and assembled on site. To date, Mass Timber building systems have been used in only around 100 high-rises worldwide since the first 9-story project in 2009. But its popularity is spreading, and buildings are growing taller, with structures up to 18 stories now covered by the International Building Code.
Mass Timber can greatly reduce the harmful environmental impact of new buildings. The traditional materials of high-rise construction, steel and concrete, are produced by extractive industries that mine and heat the raw materials, thereby consuming even more carbon – called “embodied energy.” By contrast, during photosynthesis trees turn sunlight into oxygen and capture and store, or “sequester,” carbon long term. Compared to conventional concrete and steel construction, the use of Mass Timber can reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by up to 60 percent.
Tall buildings multiply these benefits, especially through high-density urbanism. This exhibition examines recent tall buildings in Mass Timber and proposals for its role in a more sustainable, low-carbon future for our cities and our planet.
This site is still under construction.
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.