The first thing that strikes you about this particular four-story, 62,688 square foot Candlewood Suite hotel is … well, how typical it is. It looks just like hundreds of other Candlewood Suites facilities worldwide. It’s exactly the brand experience Candlewood Suite guests expect.

A guest would never guess this all-cross laminated timber (CLT) structure was built in just 10 weeks with a crew of just three carpenters and eight laborers, slashing construction time by 37 percent and crew size by 40 percent.

They would never suspect the 1,200 CLT wall and floor panels used to build it were milled to within a 2-millimeter tolerance (less than 1/16-inch). Or that the hotel not only complies with all applicable building code but also meets the rigorous Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Standards administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Protective Design Center of Excellence.

More for Less

“It’s just a stronger, better building that stores carbon. It lives up to our goal of doing more with less, a building built with fewer people in less time,” says Lendlease program manager – construction, Jeff Morrow.

Lendlease is an international development, construction, and investment company. By agreement, Lendlease owns nearly 13,000 hotel rooms on 41 military installations as part of the Privatization of Army Lodging (PAL) program. The Intercontinental Hotels Group, which includes the Candlewood Suites brand, manages the PAL hotels.

“We started looking at CLT as a good way to build some of our military base hotels,” Morrow says. “The more I researched CLT, the more I liked it. One of the first places we considered was the hotel at Redstone Arsenal. The U.S. Army is always looking for ways to improve their built environment on a sustainable basis. They agreed with our CLT ideas.”

Lendlease also built Forte, Australia’s first luxury timber high rise apartment building at nine stories, with CLT. A 5 Star Green Star Project, the Australian green building rating system similar in concept to LEED, Forte delivered time savings of 30% over concrete and reduced 1,451 tonnes of C02 – equal to taking 345 cars off the road for a year.

Labor Saver

“Today a lot of construction projects are slowed down because you don’t have the right pros to finish the job,” Morrow observes. “At Redstone, we only needed three carpenters from our 11-man crew because the panels were fairly simple and easy to install.” Morrow said every piece arrived by truck “in reverse order of when we needed it. Every piece had a number and a specific location. I would call it a prefab structural frame.”

For a labor-strapped construction industry, CLT represents a powerful way forward, says Morrow. “We shaved over a month off the critical path just for framing alone and finished it with a smaller crew. CLT construction allows you to build faster and safer than previous methods.

The Redstone project consisted of 1,200 CLT panels, 11 columns, 44 beams, and more than 201,000 CLT fasteners. All window and door openings were precut. To meet Army requirements, CLT exterior wall panels are 5 inches thick, with 3- and 4-inch interior walls, and 7-inch-thick floor slabs. The project delivered in March 2016.

Telltale Clue

To meet Candlewood Suite brand standards, the CLT walls and floors are covered in gypsum board and carpet, encapsulating the timber effect. So staff and guests may never suspect “the secret” behind their unique hotel. However, there is one telltale clue according to Morrow: quiet.

“The hotel significantly exceeds sound performance requirements. You will notice the silence right away but you won’t know why. You won’t near your neighbors. You won’t hear people walking overhead,” Morrow says.

Just the Beginning

The Redstone facility is the fourth CLT project Lendlease has delivered worldwide. “Right now we’re talking with several clients around the country about CLT projects. We’re currently pricing up multiple projects and looking to do more.

“I love CLT. It’s a great new way of moving forward.”

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