Many people have realized the potential of tall wood and mass timber buildings, but wonder how or when they might see one in their own community. Just like the high-rise race in Chicago in the late 19th century, and the skyscraper race of the 1920’s and 1930’s in major cities like New York, the 2010’s will likely be known as the Renaissance of the new tall wood building race. And just like those forerunners of modern high-rise design, new systems are being developed, tested, and implemented. Material developments in concrete and steel further refined the way these buildings were built so that today, we have very established methods of design and construction using those materials.

Mass timber is a relatively young building system – but it is available and being used throughout the world. The odds are, you will see one built in your community with the next ten years.

Change takes time. One challenge in changing the way we build is the length of time it takes for our building standards to change. This refers to the building code. New versions of building codes in Canada are typically published every five years. A new idea may take a few cycles until they are adopted, meaning that a new idea may take 10 to 15 years to be adopted.

To speed up this process, in Canada, demonstration programs have helped developers construct tall wood buildings across the country. In the mid-2010’s, a demonstration project in Canada led to construction of new tall wood buildings in Vancouver, Prince George (British Columbia), Montreal and Quebec City. The knowledge and inspiration that was gained from those buildings is now being used by other developers to replicate and improve on those early designs. New demonstration programs will see buildings constructed across Canada, typically in major cities. But the methods and technology are easily transferable and stand to significantly change the way we build in a very short time.

New to mass timber and tall wood buildings? Start here.