“Frankly, we aren’t breaking a sweat. It’s only public perception and emotion trumping science that stalls us from moving higher”, says Michael Green an Architect and the designer of the 30m Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George British Columbia who had their topping-out ceremony last March 22, 2014.
Green proposed a 20-storey (60 meter) structure several years ago that is made from cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels – sheets are made from cheap, sustainable softwood that are glued or pinned together in precise layers. It is believed that the raw materials itself might be weak and of variable quality, however, the panels can be engineered to be virtually identical and even stronger than concrete, they also resist fire well, charring at their surface instead of catching alight like the lumber used in most American homes.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last March 2014 a $2M competition to demonstrate the viability of new generation of wooden “ply scrapers”. It is more than 15 years now that America, the birthplace of skyscraper, was the last home of the world’s tallest building. On the other hand, they may lack the highest high-rise made from traditional steel and concrete but America has its bragging rights in being the world’s tallest skyscraper made from wood.
Tom Vilsack, America’s Secretary of Agriculture, said that the challenge for them is to catch up and they will be going to do that. The USDA will fund an industry and will provide technical support to architects, and pursue other federal departments to adopt the new technologies.
“Cross-laminated timber can be used for emergency shelters, to quickly rebuild communities after hurricanes or floods, and by the Department of Defence to rebuild barracks. There’s even infrastructure that could be built with this,” Vilsack.Source: http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2014/04/wooden-skyscrapers