Mass Timber: So What Now?

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Hosted on the Coral Gables campus, the night of the symposium featured a keynote speech, panel speakers, and focused on the progress of mass timber from small-scale to big-scale projects, and what that entails with current standard procedures and policies.

Tract 01: The Academics of Wood

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  • Presentation 01: Building Forests With Trees

    An architect, maker and educator with a focus on trees, Zachary Mollica is a leading voice on alternative futures for wood building. His work explores the integration of innovative digital methods – particularly 3D scanning – with craft and material knowledge in pursuit of better natural, social and constructed environments. Zac’s research is best demonstrated by the ‘Tree Fork Truss,’ a large spanning structure he led the design and assembly of while a student at the AA’s Hooke Park campus. As faculty, Zac furthered this thinking through ambitious built projects developed collaboratively with MArch/MSc students, and in 2019 became the inaugural director of the AA Wood Lab. Now based in Toronto, Zac is a consultant to both schools and a variety of design practices.

  • Presentation 02: An Ethics of Care in a Vertical Commons

    Note: Due to technical and recording issues, this presentation was unfortunately not recorded. Please see below for presentation details, and Lindsey Wikstrom's bio.

    PRESENTATION DETAILS: Given their production of oxygen, and thousands of years of providing fuel and building materials, forests are fundamental to life and civilization. Forests are and have been synchronistically transformed and interpreted by human thought; you could say that forests are made, whether they are disturbed or not. With the emerging and essential deployment of mass timber, there is an opportunity to imagine new relationships, experiences and typologies between urban and forest environments.

    Lindsey Wikstrom is the Founding Principal of Mattaforma and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Previously, she contributed to projects with The Living, Studio Gang, Aranda\Lasch, and Wendell Burnette Architects. She holds an M.Arch from Columbia University, where she was awarded the Charles McKim Prize, Visualization Award, and Avery 6 Award. Lindsey is also the recipient of the SOM Prize. Her research on mass timber and healthy building materials has been published in Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture between Metrics and Narratives, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, Faktur, Cite, e-flux, Urban Omnibus, and others. In 2022, her Advanced IV M.Arch studio Fringe Timber: An Ethics of Care in a Vertical Commons received an honorable mention for the ASCA Timber Education Prize.

  • Presentation 03: Turning Point In Timber Construction

    Uli Dangel is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in design, construction, architectural detailing, and structural design. He is a registered architect in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Texas and maintains an Austin-based design practice.   

    His research and teaching focus on the use of wood in construction, its influence on building culture and craft, and how it contributes to the advancement of sustainable practices at the scale of local and global economies. Birkhäuser Basel published his first two books Sustainable Architecture in Vorarlberg: Energy Concepts and Construction Systems and Turning Point in Timber Construction: A New Economy in 2010 and 2017 respectively. Uli Dangel’s latest book Time for Timber, published in 2019 by the Center for American Architecture and Design at UT Austin, documents research he completed as the Center’s 2016-2018 Meadows Fellow.

  • Presentation 04: Situated Relevance

    John Folan is Architecture Department Head at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design (FJSoA+D) at the University of Arkansas and Director of the Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS). John founded the UDBS in 2008 as the T. David Fitzgibbon Chair at Carnegie Mellon University to work with underrepresented communities on the development and implementation of catalytic projects through participatory design processes. The work prioritizes public interest, social justice and equity as a productive end. In 2011 John founded and assumed responsibility as the Executive Director of PROJECT RE_ to expand the capacity of the UDBS through strategic partnerships with other non-profit entities in addressing problems of regional significance at scale. His efforts through PROJECT RE_ address physical and transactional needs in providing job skill development and the promotion of entrepreneurial opportunities for under-represented populations; supporting simultaneous aspirations of community restoration, resident empowerment, and material resource advocacy.

Tract 02: Impractically Practical

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  • Presentation 01: Mass Timber: In a Regenerative Design Practice

    Brian Court has brought sustainable design to the forefront of the public realm with his performance-driven design process that works in harmony with natural forces, shaping our environment and establishing a low-impact, regenerative future. Since joining Miller Hull in 2001, Brian has led the design of numerous high profile and complex landmark projects using a deft combination of time-tested and innovative design strategies and emerging technologies. This has earned him the reputation as an advocate for groundbreaking sustainable design.

    Brian has a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Washington and continues to give back to the program as a guest reviewer and thesis critic. Pushing the boundaries of current practice make him a highly sought-after speaker and instructor who regularly shares his insight and experience with other designers and students. Additionally, Brian was honored with the distinguished and singular Young Architect Award by AIA Seattle in 2013.

  • Presentation 02: Timber Canopy

    Breck Craparo is the principal architect of Breckstudio Architecture. Based in Austin, Texas, the practice is focused on designing highly refined yet livable residential spaces, carefully tailored to the land. The studio passionately believes that the greatest luxury of all is a strong connection with nature. The studio's collective design process is guided by high-touch client collaboration, rigorous site-specific design, and attention to the finest material details - leading to generous spaces and rich pallets, that support bright and joyful lives.

  • Presentation 03: Woodness: Ecology, Efficiency, and Efficacy

    Shawna Meyer is a founding principal of Atelier Mey architecture practice based in Miami, FL and a faculty member at the University of Miami School of Architecture.  The work of Atelier Mey acknowledges an obligation to confront the blase attitude towards architectural decision making, responsible for shaping the natural and built environments.  Her work in practice, teaching and research exists at the confluence of social, cultural, economic and environmental forces.  The overarching trajectory of Shawna’s career has been in pursuit of architectural attunement through the lens of energetics, matter, and the craft in their assembly.  As principals of Atelier Mey, Shawna and Christopher received a 2021 AIA Honor Award for Sustainable Architects of the Year from Miami AIA chapter.   
    Through her practicing role as a principal of Atelier Mey and academic role as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Miami School of Architecture Littoral Urbanism Lab [LU_Lab], she explores design as an act of questioning-without perceived bias. The work of Atelier Mey is rooted in innovation and design excellence with recognition of local, national and global awards. Atelier Mey are the authors  (with Daniel Hemmindinger) of Buoyant Clarity Pamphlet Architecture 36 and responsible for the design and construction of the first mass timber structure in Miami-Dade County.

  • Presentation 04: The Case For All Wood

    Ben Waechter founded Wadchter Architecture in 2008 to pursue experiential and clear design. His approach is fueled by a drive for spatial, formal and compositional clarity that transcends place, time or style. Ben's principles lie in providing bold forms arrived at through exercised in concept, distillation, and intelligent programming. Each project is conceived as a singular response that evokes an experiential identity, creating spaces that balance the composition of interior and exterior to establish functional, lasting, iconic works of architecture.

    The work of Ben and Waechter Architecture have received numerous design awards regionally and nationally. A few of these awards include Architectural Record's Design Vanguard award and The Architectural League of New York's annual Emerging Voices award. This year Ben was elevated to Fellow by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the highest membership honor given to professionals for their exceptional work and contributions to architecture and society.