For the past several years, there’s been increasing talk of a renaissance in timber construction. Although we are predisposed to thinking of wood as a component limited to the classic balloon-frame house, new technologies have generated alternative materials which look like and are created from wood, but are stronger and more versatile than their more traditional cousins. While there are a number of different products on the market, including Glulam and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL), the material that seems to hold the most promise for changing construction is Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).
The engineered material is created by stacking and gluing smaller pieces of structural lumber, each layer perpendicular to the one below it, to create wooden panels with a number of advantages to other commercial construction materials. According to Reinhard Sauter, owner of Sauter Timber, “CLT has excellent seismic values, it is extremely durable, competitive in price to steel and concrete, lighter and thinner than the latter, and with reduced construction times” - all of which made it an obvious material candidate for the company’s award-winning construction facility in Rockwood, Tennessee, completed in 2014. The structure, which was built with a Glulam frame and CLT wall and roof panels, offers an insight into how these materials can be effectively utilized in future commercial and industrial structures.