Catalyst Building in Spokane, Wash.
Michael Green Architecture Catalyst Building in Spokane, Wash.

ArchitectChats' Timber on the Rise series highlights innovations and innovators in wood design and construction. Listen to more episodes here.

The building industry is in need of an upgrade and the sooner, the better. While productivity in the overall economy has increased significantly over the past half-century, construction has actually seen a stagnation or decline in productivity. This should come as a surprise to no one given that the construction industry invests less than 2 percent of its revenue in research and development and in information technology, according to a 2016 McKinsey report.

Craig Curtis, FAIA
Courtesy Katerra Craig Curtis, FAIA

Enter Katerra, a 2,000-person company headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., that is applying a systems approach to design, manufacturing, and construction. Founded in 2015, Katerra—which bills itself as a tech company—has an estimated $1 billion in construction projects in the pipeline for next year.

In this episode, Craig Curtis, FAIA, president of Katerra Architecture, the company's in-house design group, describes how Katerra is investing in mass-timber production and applying principles culled from mass production and manufacturing to streamline the building process. To help ensure that it creates high quality architecture, Katerra consults with its Design Consortium, a group of four leading architects who, until recently, were all external to the company. Today, Katerra announced its acquisition of Michael Green Architecture, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Episode 22: Timber on the Rise, Part 7 - Katerra Tackles the Inefficiencies of the Building Industry, featuring Katerra Architecture president Craig Curtis, is available on SoundCloud and on iTunes.

Section diagram, Catalyst Building
Michael Green Architecture Section diagram, Catalyst Building
Veradale development in Spokane, Wash.
Courtesy Katerra Veradale development in Spokane, Wash.
Alderwood development in Lynwood, Wash.
Courtesy Katerra Alderwood development in Lynwood, Wash.

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