As Marshall McLuhan stated in Material Strategies, “Failure to notice the new opportunities is also failure to understand the new powers…”, in other words, we need to be aware of new opportunities around us and not just let them pass us by like the next person coming towards you down the street. Innovation is about taking risks and challenging change, bringing us away from our conventional ways of thinking, building, designing, and to take risks of what could be.
Michael Green of Michael Green Architecture challenges us to approach tall buildings in a sustainable manner using wood as the dominant material rather than steel and concrete. The conventional materials of tall structures are now secondary. He introduces a new construction model, FFTT (Finding the Forest Through the Trees) which is a type of tilt-up system that balloon-frames Mass Timber panels, uses steel beams for ductility and fighting wind and earthquake forces, and concrete in the grades below the structure.
This new construction method is adaptive and flexible to designing tall buildings. More detail about this method can be found in the case study listed below. Yes, the details are important, but what is more important is what Michael Green is presenting to us: change. If we want sustainability, “we need to search for the big picture solutions of today’s vast climate, environmental, economic and world housing needs” as Green states, using wood as a sustainable alternative to steel and concrete dominant structures. By building with wood, we can begin to decrease green house gas emissions and store carbon within the building. The case study developed my Michael Green notes that “a typical North American timber-frame home captures about 28 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of seven years of driving a mid-size car or about 12,500 liters of gasoline” (The Case Study for Tall Wood Buildings). If that is how much a typical home can store, imagine how much a tall building can store. Imagine what we can do as designers taking on such a method. Again, Innovation is about taking risks and challenging change, bringing us away from our conventional ways of thinking, building, designing, and taking risks of what could be.
Rosenfield , Karissa . “Michael Green presents ‘The Case for Tall Wood Buildings’” 27 Mar 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 07 Sep 2012. <http://www.archdaily.com/220779>
Blaine Brownell, “Introduction,” Material Strategies, 8-13
Green, Michael. “The Case for Tall Wood Buildings” 22 February 2012. <http://wecbc.smallboxcms.com/database/rte/files/Tall%20Wood.pdf>