Mass Timber Construction

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Mass Timber Construction

Quick Facts | What is Mass Timber Construction?


Mass Timber construction is an energy-efficient alternative to high-rise and commercial buildings. Wood is a natural, renewable and sustainable material for building, with a lighter carbon footprint than steel or concrete. Not only does it have positive environmental impacts, but it has also proven to be structurally strong and meet the same performance and life safety standards as concrete and steel structures.

C.D. Smith building mass timber construction for Ascent world's tallest timber tower in Milwaukee


Value-Added Benefits

Mass timber materials are not inexpensive. However, mass timber offers several cost competitive advantages and long-term benefits. Columns, beams and panels on average weigh 1/5th the weight of concrete and steel materials, reducing shipping costs and requiring a smaller workforce to install. With prefabricated panels delivered directly to jobsites, construction time can be reduced by approximately 25 percent, saving owners even more time and money. Furthermore, wood structures have a biophilic effect on people, increasing occupants’ overall health and wellness and give long-term value to the design.


Carbon Sequestering timber building carbon storage for negative carbon imprint mass timber building


Carbon Sequestering

Timber buildings store carbon in their structure for the life of the building. An 18-story mass timber building, for example, has a negative carbon imprint equal to taking 2,350 cars off the road per year.

Sustainably Sourced

Modern forestry practices ensure a continuous cycle of growing, harvesting and replanting timber. Lumber that is sourced for mass timber construction is sustainably harvested using these best practices. Alternating trees are cut during harvest, allowing the remaining trees to grow twice as tall and not compete for natural resources. Additionally, when timber is harvested, two saplings are planted for every tree harvested, ensuring future forest growth and resources.


Sustainably Sourced Wood for Mass Timber Construction - Modern Forestry Harvesting & Planting




CLT Cross-Laminated Timber & GLT Glue Laminated Timber for structural strength of mass timber construction


Structurally Strong

Mass timber comprises multiple solid, load-bearing wood panels bound together to create extraordinary strength and stability. Panels can be bound together through various methods, including nailing, gluing or using dowels. Depending on the desired structural integrity, compressed layers of wood will be stacked parallel or at 90-degree angles. While a fraction of the weight of concrete buildings, mass timber buildings can withstand seismic forces and embodied energy, including earthquakes and high winds.

Fire Resistant

Mass timber columns, beams and panels are fire tested and rated to ensure occupant safety and meet building code requirements. Fire ratings are based on building types set by local and state building codes. Type I Buildings, commonly multi-story or high-rise buildings, require a fire-resistant rating of three hours. Timber burns in a predictable way, charring the wood’s exterior; this is called the char zone. Once a char-zone is formed in the event of a fire, it insulates the remaining wood, allowing it to retain its structural capacity. Engineers determine the required thickness needed to maintain the structural integrity of columns, beams and panels and add upwards of 16 inches of additional material to create a char-zone that would be burned off in the event of a fire. This structural design ensures it will be structurally adequate under fire conditions.


Fire resistant mass timber columns beams panels with char zone for fire ratings


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World's tallest mass timber building construction: Ascent in Milwaukee

C.D. Smith Construction Ascent MKE Project Updates and Notifications | Latest Press and News from the Jobsite: Building the World's Tallest Mass Timber Tower

Ascent luxury apartments Milwaukee housing project updates from C.D. Smith Construction on tallest mass timber wood building.Photorealistic renderings courtesy of Korb + Associates

At 284 feet tall, Ascent MKE is poised to become the world's tallest mass timber structure. The 25-story residential tower will be home to 259 luxury apartments constructed on a six-story cast-in-place concrete parking structure. As one of the construction team leaders on this project, C.D. Smith ensures you of our commitment to safety and a positive experience throughout construction by being your source for the latest news and construction updates. Discover more information and stay current with the latest media news on this exciting project by visiting our Ascent MKE page.

Learn More about Ascent MKE Building the World's Tallest Mass Timber Tower


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C.D. Smith Construction is an industry leader in safely providing the highest quality commercial construction services. Utilizing an integrated approach and self-performing trade services combined with technical expertise, our team serves as a solutions provider throughout all phases of a project, from planning through construction. With veteran leadership and a dedication to our employees and clients, we proudly place our name on projects of all sizes across the United States.



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Corporate Headquarters
125 Camelot Drive
Fond du Lac, WI 54935

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241 North Broadway
Suite 400
Milwaukee, WI 53202

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316 West Washington Avenue
Suite 900 
Madison, WI 53703

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333 Front Street North
Suite 701 
La Crosse, WI 54601

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