475 West 18th, in New York
Courtesy SHoP Architects 475 West 18th, in New York

Plans for what would have been New York's tallest wooden structure designed by local firm SHoP Architects have been canceled by the developer, Sy Ghassemi, according to an article on The Real Deal. The firm won the 2015 U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize, a design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and several industry associations that awarded them $1.5 million in research and development funding. SHoP used the funding to help conceptualize its 475 West 18th condominium project.

“The project just wasn’t feasible,” Ghassemi said in a Feb. 24 article in The Real Deal. He also cited diminishing investment interest by lenders and a market downturn as potential reasons for the project cancellation.

"While we had hoped the Chelsea project would move forward, we remain enthusiastic about mass-timber technology and continue to evolve the technology through other potential opportunities," a SHoP spokesperson told ARCHITECT in a statement. SHoP does not intend to repurpose the plan for another site or developer, but will continue to help evolve mass-timber technology.

With increasing pressure to design and construct in environmentally conscious ways, mass-timber technology has emerged as a viable solution. Compared to the conventional construction materials, such as steel and concrete, timber is lightweight and has a lower embodied energy. Wood, of course, also acts as a carbon sink. The development of related technology is also being promoted by legislators with an upcoming bill to be voted on in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Plans for Framework, the co-winner of the 2015 U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize, are still moving forward. The 12-story timber tower in Portland, Ore., is designed by local firm Lever Architecture.