Portland Sets The Framework For Its First Wooden High-Rise


USA's first high-rise wooden structure will soon become a reality as planners have approved the construction of Lever Architecture's 'Framework' building.

Despite US codes previously choosing to turn away from buildings with load-bearing wooden structures over 30 metres, the State of Oregon and the City of Portland gave the green light this week for the project to be built from mass timber.

In order for the project to begin official construction it was decided that Framework's materials should consist primarily of a combination of engineered woods like cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (Glulam). The structure will also need to achieve a list of criteria which can only be done through a rigorous testing phase to meet seismic, fire and acoustic requirements.

Lever Architecture said Framework is a 90,000 square foot, 12-story, mixed-use project which will seek to be a catalyst that connects sustainable urban development to rural economic growth, regionally and nationally.


Framework was supported by a $1.5 million dollar award from the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Softwood Lumber Board, and Binational Softwood Lumber Council. The award offsets the costs of testing and peer review necessary to pursue a performance-based project beyond what is permitted in current building codes.

The mixed-use project will combine retail and public exhibition on the ground level, with five levels of office and 60-units of affordable housing. Framework’s commercial tenants will be B corporations—businesses certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The housing component of the project will accommodate residents earning less than 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

Framework is part of a mutually beneficial cycle between natural resources, the rural timber industries that rely on these resources, and the cities served by the completion of these buildings. Demand for tall wood buildings in urban areas drives economic opportunity in rural areas by the creation of jobs and manufacturing of wood products to meet the market need.

Images courtesy Lever Architecture.

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