ArchitectChats is kicking off our second four-episode series this season, "Timber On the Rise," which will introduce you to the innovators who are taking wood structural systems to new heights.

Headlines touting the newest timber high-rises have been on the rise in the past decade, as there has been renewed interest in using wood structural systems for mid- and high-rise commercial construction across Europe, Canada, and the United States. This interest in the potential applications has grown, in part, because of innovation in the world of mass timber products, which have reduced weight and increased strength, making them more viable alternatives.

Dowel-laminated timber during the manufacturing process
Courtesy StructureCraft Builders Dowel-laminated timber during the manufacturing process

Engineered wood products such as cross-laminated, glue-laminated, and nail-laminated timber have achieved strength to weight ratios that rival steel and reinforced concrete, and now there's a new kid on the block, or at least on this side of the pond. Dowel-laminated timber, which uses hardwood dowels to friction-fit premilled boards together, has been around in Europe for nearly 20 years, but is entering the North American market for this first time this year.

Lucas Epp, head of engineering, StructureCraft Builders
Courtesy StructureCraft Builders Lucas Epp, head of engineering, StructureCraft Builders

To explain more about the product, and how the 100 percent timber product can be used in commercial construction, ARCHITECT spoke with Lucas Epp, head of engineering at StructureCraft Builders. According to his StructureCraft bio: "Lucas has had a lifelong exposure to timber, working at StructureCraft from a young age on the shop floor. He has since been involved in many of the company's signature projects, including the sweeping 200-meter-long (650-foot-long) Arena Stage Theatre façade in Washington, D.C., and an 80-meter (265-foot) clear span footbridge in Banff."

Episode 13: Timber On the Rise, Part 1 - Dowel-Laminated Timber, featuring Lucas Epp, available on SoundCloud and on iTunes.

This episode of ArchitectChats was brought to you by reThink Wood, and produced by Lauren Honesty and Wanda Lau.

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