A 242,000-square-foot office project is nothing new for the Dallas-Fort Worth area where over 7 million square feet of office space were being built in 2022, according to Yardi Systems (via The Dallas Morning News.) But this is not just another run-of-the-mill seven-story development. Crow Holdings challenged itself with the construction of North Texas’ first office building made out of wood.
Designed by North Carolina-based architects Duda|Paine and Gensler, the Offices at Southstone Yards is the initial phase of a 45-acre mixed-use development on State Highway 121 that will include more than 9 acres of green space, retail, restaurants, hotel space and over 1,000 urban living and townhomes available for residents.
If you are not part of the construction industry you may not be too familiar with mass timber, also known as cross-laminated timber (CLT) but in recent years the engineered wood material has become increasingly attractive for developers.
According to The New York Times, a large part of CLT’s popularity comes thanks to many U.S. universities helping raise awareness of the material’s many benefits as a low-carbon alternative to steel and concrete.
“Laminated timber construction has been around since the late ‘70s but mostly in Europe and in British Columbia,” Cody Armbrister, Crow Holdings’ senior managing director told The Dallas Morning News. “Hopefully there will be more to come. We’ve received really positive comments.”
While timber is a natural and renewable material, its construction capabilities are very limited, as it’s structurally unstable and incapable of supporting high loads. But if you take multiple layers of timber and glue them together at right angles, cross-laminating them, it results in much higher levels of rigidity. And you can build on that, reinforcing the product by adding layers. According to Arch Daily, a CLT board’s strength is similar to that of reinforced concrete.
Another reason why Crow Holdings chose this material to build the Southstone Yards project, is because of its thermal insulation, design flexibility, reduced build-out costs and CLT allows for faster construction. “The building goes up a little bit like an Erector Set,” Sandra Lupien, director of MassTimber@MSU, a Michigan State University program told The New York Times.
It also doesn’t hurt that CLT looks good as an exposed material for walls and floors which creates a warmer workplace. “This thing will absolutely glow,” Armbrister said. “Lower stress levels, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, a sense of wellness, a sense of employees feeling like they are important — those are demonstratable benefits for officing in that environment.”