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Urban Timber: From Seed to City

Winnie Man 201406 26 BSA Urban Timber Exhibit 031 0

Image courtesy Winnie Man, QTMousie Studios.

New England was built with timber. Were it not for the Great Fire of Boston in 1872, the urban landscape of glass, steel, and concrete that we know today might have been very different.

This exhibition celebrates wood as the region’s most sensible and abundant choice of material for urban building, highlighting its flexibility and technical qualities, including timber's potential to combat climate change.

Yugon Kim, founding partner of IKD, Associate/Director of TSKP Boston, and co-curator of the exhibition explains “We now know that timber is a superior structural building material that should be considered alongside steel and concrete. The carbon offset and sustainability benefits of wood make it an ever-relevant and timely building material in the urban landscape."

Urban Timber: From seed to city shows that recent developments—including numerous successful implementations of timber as primary structural for midrise buildings in Europe—point to a different future.

The exhibition includes a number of case studies, examples of existing wood technology and recent material innovations in the many kinds of engineered timber available to the building industry today.

On display, and the result of an open competition, are four winning projects proposed by emerging architects featuring innovative structural uses of timber. The winners collaborated with mentor architects, engineers, and material suppliers to install their unseen installations in the gallery.


Image courtesy Boston based architecture firm IKD.

Sean Gaffney
Christina Nguyen

Architecture Mentor
NADAAA / Nader Tehrani

Engineering Mentor
Lera / Benjamin M. Cornelius

Project Description
Duck-Work shows the three different properties of plywood:

  1. Availability in standardized dimensions and provides both workability and easy transportation.
  2. Resistance and allowance of bending.
  3. Composited of multiple layers and grains of wood, each performing a supportive role.

Standard practice requires that wood should be steamed, laminated or cut into a desired curve. Duck-Work invents a new type of wood construction method that integrates the tools used to bend wood directly into the assembly itself. It breaks down complex curvature into a series of smaller bends that can be assembled on site. Like plywood which is comprised of multiple layers of wood and glue, Duck-Work is made out of a series of plywood sheets formed by tension rods able to support large loads. The installation shows us that wood buildings can be easily modified and changed with little energy.

Four Corners

Image courtesy Boston based architecture firm IKD.

Yasmin Vobis, Aaron Forrest, Ultamoderne

Architecture Mentor
Waugh Thistleton Architects / Andrew Waugh

Project Description
Four Corners reimagines the traditional timber-framed New England Barn using cross-laminated timber (CLT). The team approached the structure as a material investigation. Mimicking the form of traditional barn gablesCLT is folded into complementary triangular shapes or bents cut from corners of a barn shape and reassembled. Four Corners shows us that unlike a traditional bent and gable structure that includes multiple elements, a single material (timber) is used to complete all the requirements, functioning as both the enclosure and structure. Notice the passages and space usually associated with a typical New England Barn.

Coopered Column

Image courtesy Boston based architecture firm IKD.

Timothy Olson

Architecture Mentor
Anmahian Winton Architects / Alex Anmahian

Project Description
The installation is an investigation into timber's limits. It is modeled after a barrel with all of the connections done with fully threaded screws. The type of wood used is Port Orford Cedar, a tree commonly known as cypress. The wood was chosen based on its smell to create juxtaposition between the sterile nature of exhibition spaces and the aroma of timber. Coopered Column illustrates how wood can affect our level of happiness. The presence of natural materials such as wood is associated with lower stress and positive feelings.


Image courtesy Boston based architecture firm IKD.

Christopher Taurasi
Lexi White
Jeffrey Lee

Architecture mentors
Gray Organschi Architects / Alan Organschi

Project Description
M2X3 bends engineered wood to create segments that could serve as both the structural and surface elements of a building. When they are combined, it becomes a framing system that can be used instead of the traditional framing joinery. M2X3 shows us that wood is a highly malleable material that can be stretched, bended and shaped to serve all construction and design related requirements. Notice the multiple layers of individual timber pressed to produce an organic and curvaceous structure, swirling and dramatically flowing in between one another. When the wood is laminated together, it minimizes weakness.

Free exhibition tours:
Tuesdays and Sundays at 1:00 pm; tours last approximately 30 minutes.

Stay tuned:
This public program will include a series of collaborative public workshops and lectures will accompany the exhibition to provide extra platforms for dialogue and knowledge-sharing between key players in the industry.