Mass timber has long been observed as a more environmentally sustainable alternative to structural steel in tall-building construction, but the material has lacked the necessary supply chain, code allowance, and public acceptance to go much further than the research lab. Earlier this month, however, structural engineers at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, along with researchers from the University of Oregon, completed the first full-scale test of a structural mass timber system, which utilizes engineered wood reinforced with concrete to strengthen the joints while adding stiffness to the entire installation. The mock-up comprised an 8-foot-by-38-foot floor slab placed atop a rig with an actuator that applied force similar to what the system would experience in installation. The installation exceeded code requirements, but the team still sees areas that could be further optimized. "We were pleasantly surprised by the test,” SOM structural engineer Benton Johnson told Fast Company’s Co. Design. “We had a good margin of error and good prediction results. It shows that the proposals we’ve been working on really do work—the concept we’re working toward, using reinforced concrete to supplement timber is valid.”

Read the full story at Fast Company’s Co.Design.

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