In a Design and the City episode - a podcast by reSITE on how to make cities more liveable - Vancouver-based architects Michael Green and Natalie Telewiak advocate for more sustainable building on Earth, with a special mention for one of their preferred materials - wood. The interview sees the two architects balance the benefits and disadvantages of mass timber construction, which they are a strong proponent of as evidenced by their project T3, a LEED Gold Certified, seven-story timber office building in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Michael Green Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News
In May, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs announced that it would cancel its high-profile Quayside project because of “unprecedented economic uncertainty.” The statement marked the end of a three-year initiative to create a living, urban “testbed for emerging technologies, materials, and processes.”
Reversing the traditional order of city planning, Sidewalk Labs imagined building a new urban district on Toronto’s waterfront from the internet up, with sensors and other data collection infrastructure embedded in the fabric of a large city block. The ambitious development—with an area of 2.65 million square feet, including 1.78 million square feet of residential space—was to be built entirely from mass timber; indeed, the extensive use of modular cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (glulam) was a chief selling point of the design (by Heatherwick Studio and Snøhetta, using a kit-of-parts developed by Michael Green Architecture).
Steel and concrete facades have dominated contemporary cityscapes for generations, but as pressures from climate change pose new challenges for design and construction industries, some firms are turning to mass timber as the construction material of the future. But could it be used for structures as complex as skyscrapers?
A part of the Riverfront Square redevelopment project – which will feature 11.8 acres of mixed-use buildings by TEN Arquitectos, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners and Michael Green Architecture and parkland designed by James Corner Field Operations – the Riverfront Square office building will contain up to 500,000 square feet of Class A office space within its cutting-edge timber-framed structural system.
The 2016 winning submissions of Wood Design & Building magazine’s annual Wood Design Awards have been announced, each project demonstrates innovative approaches to and excellence in wood construction within architecture and design.
“For architecture to truly be successful, it must transcend buildings and fulfill the structural, functional and aesthetic needs of a community,” said Vice-President of Market Development for the Canadian Wood Council, Etienne Lalonde. “The Wood Design Awards program is an opportunity for design teams to showcase applications of wood/wood products that ultimately lead to safe, strong and sophisticated buildings and that inspire others to use wood in construction.”
Of the approximately 200 submissions, 22 projects were selected as award recipients across seven categories, selected by an esteemed jury consisting of Peter Bohlin, Patricia Patkau and Brian Court. Special awards were also presented by the Canadian Wood Council.
Here are the 2016 award recipients…
Michael Green has teamed up with Finnish forestry company Metsä Wood and Equilibrium Consulting to redesign the Empire State Building with wood as the main material. The project is part of Metsä Wood’s “Plan B” program, which explores what it would be like for iconic buildings to be made of timber. Their work shows that not only can wood be used to produce enormous structures in a dense urban context, but also that timber towers can fit into an urban setting and even mimic recognizable buildings despite differences in material.
Michael Green Architecture (MGA) and DVVD has teamed up with REI France developments to propose the world's tallest wood building in Paris. The carbon-neutral proposal, developed as part of the city’s innovative Réinventer Paris competition, aims to alleviate the city's urban housing challenges.
“Our goal is that through innovation, youthful social contact and overall community building, we have created a design that becomes uniquely important to Paris,” said Michael Green, Principal of MGA. “Just as Gustave Eiffel shattered our conception of what was possible a century and a half ago, this project can push the envelope of wood innovation with France in the forefront. The Pershing Site is the perfect moment for Paris to embrace the next era of architecture.”
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has awarded two British Columbia projects with the 2015 Innovation in Architecture award for their use of wood and steel: Michael Green Architecture's Wood Innovation Design Center in Prince George has been deemed to be an exemplar for tall timber buildings, while Patkau Architects' origami-inspired One Fold research project illustrates the structural potential of folding steel sheets. A closer look at both projects, after the break.
Building a skyscraper? Forget about steel and concrete, architect Michael Green says build it out of wood. As he details in this intriguing talk, it's not only possible to build safe wooden structures up to 30 stories tall (and, he hopes, higher), it's necessary.