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Five Myths About Timber

Timber City opens September 17

Shop Facade

Our new exhibition, Timber City, explores the benefits offered by cutting-edge methods of timber construction, including engineered wood products like cross-laminated timber. Here are some of the questions—and surprising answers—related to urban timber construction that illustrate how a traditional building material is uniquely positioned for a future of more sustainable, healthful, and beautiful buildings and cities. 

Won’t timber buildings burn down?

A heavy timber building can be safer than a steel building in a fire. The blackened layer of char that forms on wood in a fire actually protects it from further burning.  

Shouldn’t we leave the forests alone?

Most of our forests are managed to some extent, and careful harvesting will give us healthier forests, not to mention fewer forest fires, fewer invasive species, and, because timber locks in carbon, less carbon dioxide in the air.

What about deforestation?

Building with timber doesn’t just mean cutting down the trees; it involves working with forests’ natural cycle to balance new growth and old, with no net loss.

Are wood buildings strong?

Cross-laminated timber competes directly with steel and concrete in many ways. Wood has different strengths depending on how its grain is oriented. The process of “cross-laminating” ensures that engineered wood is strong in all directions.

Don’t you need special skills to build with engineered wood?

Engineered wood can be cut and joined with familiar tools. Moreover, factory prefabrication means that less work is required on the building site, reducing waste.

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