The Framework Project LLC has tall plans for mass timber in North America. The first undertaking is a 12-story engineered-wood building in Portland, Ore., called Framework Tower.

Before construction can begin on the tower, the mass-timber material must pass several tests. The first was a fire test on a column-beam-floor assembly, made from glue-laminated timber and cross-laminated timber, which the developer has announced demonstrates "for the first time the feasibility of tall mass-timber buildings in the U.S.” Tall mass-timber buildings using GLT and CLT have already been built in Europe, Australia and Canada.

Testing of the GLT beam and column assembly with CLT floor panels—from D.R. Johnson Wood Innovations—meet fire code requirements, said Thomas Robinson, founding principal of LEVER Architecture, Framework’s architect. The tests were made possible by a $1.5-million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, the Softwood Lumber Board and Binational Softwood Lumber Council to The Framework Project as part of the 2014 U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition.

The Framework Project says a GLT beam-to-column connection has never before been tested for two hours. 

With the fire testing behind them, Framework, designed by LEVER Architecture, moves closer to clearing the permitting process for a building sited in Portland’s Pearl District. Construction is expected  to start next March and wrap up by March 2018. If completed as planned, Framework would be the first and tallest mass-timber high-rise in the U.S.

The Framework Project team includes LEVER, Home Forward, Walsh Construction Co., KPFF Consulting Engineers, ARUP and Structurecraft Builders Inc. “Framework is intended to communicate inside and out an innovative use of wood,” says Anyeley Hallóva, project developer. “These exciting, breakthrough test results establish Framework as a potentially catalytic project, one that can serve as a national case study toward a more sustainable future and a beautiful building material and technology.”

Structural tests under way should wrap in November. They include tests needed to gain approval for the tallest post-tensioned rocking wall in the world. A rocking wall is a system designed to minimize structural damage in an earthquake.