Innovation begins with an idea and moves into a design. This wood skyscraper design shows what may be possible now and in the future.
WHEN CHICAGO’S JOHN Hancock Center was built in 1965, it required 5 million pounds of aluminum, roughly enough metal to manufacture the equivalent of 96 tour buses. Five years later, engineers did Hancock one better when they constructed the Sears Tower, a 1,400 foot skyscraper that used more than 176 million pounds of steel. Chicago has always been a city defined by metal and concrete, but now, an ambitious new proposal promises to introduce a new material to Chicago’s skyline, and to skyscrapers around the world: wood.
Today, on a site along the Chicago River, architects are exploring a new kind of high-rise structure built entirely from timber. The River Beech Tower is a spindly, beechwood building whose 80 stories cut a blonde silhouette against Chicago’s dark, glassy horizon. The concept building hasn’t been constructed yet, and may never be. It’s part of an ongoing research project between Cambridge University, architects at Perkins + Will, and engineers at Thornton Tomasetti that aims to answer lingering questions around how, exactly, architects and engineers might bring these massive timber towers to life.
River Beech is just one of a handful of ambitious ideas that have popped up in the past couple of years. Designers have proposed a scheme for an equally tall wooden skyscraper in London called Oakwood Tower. In Stockholm, plans for a 436-foot residential building—the tallest in the city—are in the works. And Zaha Hadid’s firm recently won the commission to construct an undulating, all-timber soccer stadium in England.Read More