INTRO Cleveland by Harbor Bay is Cleveland's first, and currently America's largest, mass timber project. This innovative sustainability project was designed with the intent of literally INTROducing Cleveland, and the country, to a new perspective in the built environment. The goal of INTRO is to "build sustainably for the future, to inspire through innovative design, and to encourage strong, lasting community in the places people live, work, and socialize." Our team at Emerald has been honored to be a part of this project - and a partner to Harbor Bay.
What is Mass Timber?
Mass Timber is a new way of using one of our oldest building materials - wood. Mass Timber is short for Massive Timber, and another name for structural timber. The material is created by sticking pieces of soft wood together to form massive pieces. There are several versions of mass timber, including glulam beams (glue-laminated), LVL (laminated veneer lumber), NLT (nail-laminated timber), DLT (dowel-laminated timber), and the most common form CLT (cross-laminated timber).
These various soft wood materials are adhered to each other and kiln-dried in stacks, allowing the creation of very large slabs that can be up to a foot thick and as large as 18 feet long and 98 feet wide. These slabs can match the performance of their concrete and steel counterparts. This final result behaves very differently than traditional lumber construction.
If you haven't seen a mass timber project yet, you may soon see one in your city. As of March 2021, 1,114 mass timber projects had been constructed or were in design in all 50 states, in the multi-family, commercial, or institutional categories.* This total includes modern mass timber and post-and-beam structures built since 2013. (Building Trends)
Benefits of Mass Timber
Initially it might seem counterintuitive that we're trying to increase the use of a natural resource like wood. Isn't deforestation a bad thing? In actuality, when sustainably sourced, timber is a completely renewable building material. Utilizing smart forest management strategies, this mass timber initiative can be a boon to overstocked forests in the United States that have continued to grow while timber harvesting has been on the decline. It can lead to additional jobs in rural areas as well.
While analysis is still being conducted on the total carbon emissions released throughout the forestry, logging, production, and transport of mass timber products, the initial estimates are that mass timber buildings could represent a 26.5% reduction in global warming potential. It also reduces waste on-site as most mass timber can be custom fabricated at the production facility. This also makes construction on-site faster, like piecing together a desk from IKEA. One industry report suggests these buildings are 25% faster to construct than concrete ones and require 90% less construction traffic.
What about a fire risk (remember Chicago!)? The way this wood is produced makes it generally fire resistant. While the exterior may char in the event of fire, the interior will stay structurally sound for many hours. It's also proven to hold well in seismic activity. Mass timber is also a great natural insulator, outperforming concrete, masonry, and steel.
There are the simpler aesthetic benefits as well. The beauty of exposed wood is something that people respond to on a subconscious, primal level. The use of this natural building material provides a connection between a building's occupants and nature, enhancing health and well-being and reducing stress.
In November of 2020 the mass timber arrived in Cleveland's port after a long journey from Fugen, Austria. The building construction is currently underway at the intersection of West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue.
The final building will feature:
- 288 Contemporary apartment homes, with exposed timber throughout
- 10 Luxurious penthouses – unmatched in the Cleveland rental market
- 35k sq .ft. of brand-new dining and neighborhood-based retail
- 25k sq. ft. of extraordinary private amenity space
- 12k sq. ft. one-of-a-kind event venue, booking for spring/summer of 2022
- 1+ acre of public greenspace
As a community benefit, Harbor Bay will plant 3 trees for every one that was removed for use on this project.