What is claimed to be the largest "mass timber" building in the US, and the country's first major wooden multi-story building in more than 100 years, has opened in Minneapolis. T3, which stands for "Timber, Technology, Transit," provides 224,000 sq ft (22,000 sq m) of office and retail space.

Mass timber uses components made of wood that has been stacked or layered together. This can make them stronger than standard timber and, therefore, used to create larger spans and bigger spaces. They are also lighter than concrete or steel, meaning smaller foundations are required. Wooden construction, meanwhile, results in fewer carbon emissions and the wood itself has absorbed CO2 prior to being harvested.

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T3 was designed by Michael Green Architecture and DLR Group, with aim of referencing the heavy timber construction of previous buildings on the site. Around 3,600 cu m (127,100 cu ft) of wood was used, including for columns, beams and floor slabs, much of which was sourced from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. It boasts 11-ft (3.3-m) high exposed ceiling beams, and large portions of the timber structure has been left exposed and illuminated as a feature.

"The texture of the exposed [mass timber] is quite beautiful," says MGA Associate and T3 project lead Candice Nichol. "The small imperfections in the lumber and slight variation in colour of the mountain pine beetle wood only add to the warmth and character of the new space."

In addition to providing a desirable aesthetic, the materials allowed for faster construction than would be the case with a steel-framed or concrete building. The 180,000 sq ft (17,000 sq m) timber superstructure was erected in less than 10 weeks, with an average floor area of 30,000 sq ft (2,800 sq m) installed each week.

The ground level of the building houses retail spaces and various tenant amenities, including a fitness center and social workspace. There are also bike storage, repair and rental facilities, as well as showers for those who cycle to work. The upper six levels of the building are office spaces.

The building's exterior is clad in weathering steel, which complements the aesthetic of the wooden structure. It is located in the North Loop neighbourhood of Minneapolis, close to light rail transit, commuter rail and metro transit buses. LEED certification, which recognizes buildings that are planned, constructed, maintained and operated in a sustainable way, is being sought. The building has been awarded WiredScore pre-certification, which recognizes buildings with best-in-class internet connectivity.

T3 opened yesterday. The video below provides a virtual tour of the building.

Sources: T3 North Loop, Michael Green Architecture

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