In a major investment in the future of cross-laminated timber, Menlo Park, Calif.-based construction firm Katerra said May 29 it is acquiring Vancouver, British Columbia-based design firm Michael Green Architecture for an undisclosed amount. The move comes as Katerra expands its range of construction and design services.
MGA has focused recently on mass-timber structures and is a major advocate of using CLT in tall buildings. This was a driver behind the acquisition, says Katerra executive board member Craig Curtis. “Mass timber is one of the things I’ve pushed for since we started the company two years ago,” he says. “Michael Green is one of the best in the world at designing with this material.”
According to Curtis, Katerra is working toward covering the entire scope of a project, beyond the standard design-build approach. “We basically try to do it all. We’re trying to control every step of the process, from concept to design to fabrication to construction to occupancy of the building,” he says. Katerra is now focusing on expanding its design capabilities and building the software that will allow it to better prepare design models for its off-site fabrication facilities.
While Katerra doesn’t do true modular construction units, it does prefabricate wall and floor panels for assembly on site. Curtis sees a natural fit for mass timber systems in this. “It’s a material you can manufacture in very large components, up to 60 ft by 20 ft of solid wood,” he says. “But it’s also made with extreme precision, within a millimeter or two, since it’s all cut with CNC machines.”
MGA’s CEO Michael Green says both companies “aim to provide elegant, sustainable, high-performance, affordable buildings,” and adds, “Katerra’s goal to accomplish this on a large scale aligns with MGA’s long-term ambition."