YASSINE EL MANSOURI/NATIONAL BUILDING MUSEUM
TIMBER FROM 14
DECEMBER 23, 2016
YASSINE EL MANSOURI/ NATIONAL BUILDING MUSEUM
A residential building at 475 West 18th St. in New York, above, will be the first structural timber building in the city. The 10-story structure will reduce energy consumption by 50 percent. “Timber City” should engross those who don’t mind an exhibition that’s more text than pictures.
fir panels that dominate the exhibition. These are smaller cousins of the two largest pieces on display: a 63-foot vertical, which reaches the museum’s third floor, and a 40-foot horizontal. The panels also give the second-floor gallery a pleasant aroma. Although printing the text on giant planks is picturesque, it doesn’t disguise that the show is as wordy as it is woodsy. This is a forest of data, one in which visitors could get lost. The young and the restless may want to leave before they learn very much about CLT, sustainability and the struggle to update anti-wood building codes. Yet “Timber City” should engross those who don’t mind an exhibition that’s more text than pictures, more ideas than artifacts. If those ideas are as viable as they seem here, we will someday walk through neighborhoods where wooden buildings are as common as steel-and-glass ones are now.
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carbon footprint 60 percent smaller than that of a same-size edifice erected with steel and concrete. There would be concrete in that wooden skyscraper, just less of it than in a conventional structure. “Wood environments make people happy,” chirps the show’s text, yet “Timber City” doesn’t forecast a future of all-wood buildings. The design department hall at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, scheduled for completion next year, will feature an aluminum facade wrapped around its wooden skeleton. And, of course, wood frames can support glass curtain walls just as steel ones do. Exhibition curators and designers Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura, founding partners of the Boston architecture firm IKD, include architectural models, a video about managed forests and a world map that highlights more than 30 notable recent wooden buildings. There’s also a selection of tree stumps, examples of manufactured wood and types of lumber waste (nearly all of which can be used commercially). Most of the show’s copious information is printed on Douglas
“Timber City” at the District’s National Building Museum proposes that tomorrow’s buildings will — or should — be constructed of wood (or crosslaminated timber).