Lever debuts first office building to use mass timber construction

The future of tall

The Architecture Foundation of Oregon partnered with Lever Architecture to celebrate Albina Yard last week. A four-story, 16,000 square foot building, it houses Tanner Goods and The Wayback on the ground floor, with creative office space in the three stories above. Opened roughly a year ago in September 2016, Albina Yard is the first office building in the country to use mass timber construction.

Lever Architecture, the company that designed the building and later relocated to it after founder and principal Thomas Robinson fell in love with its beautiful Mount Hood views, is well known for pioneering the use of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). Their other high-profile CLT project, Framework, in Portland’s upscale Pearl District, is likely to become the first wood high-rise in the U.S. It will showcase ground floor retail space, five floors of office space and five floors of affordable housing.

Cross-laminated timber ceiling

Cross-Laminated Timber or “CLT” refers to an engineered wood building system designed to complement light and heavy-timber framing designs. This system has many advantages over its steel and concrete competitors, such as strength, structural flexibility, lightness (75% lighter than concrete!), and energy efficiency.

The energy efficiency element of CLT buildings ranges from carbon sequestration—one cubic meter of wood stores one ton of carbon dioxide—to the prevention of air leakages and thermal gaps through its uniform paneling. In the case of Albina Yard, sourcing was yet another element with energy in mind: its timber frame and Douglas Fir CLT panels were all locally manufactured and prefabricated in Riddle, OR, just a few hours drive south of Portland.

An attendee in conversation

This front to end approach to sustainability in the built environment is part of what Robinson refers to as the “forest-to-frame” approach. Akin to the farm-to-table movement of the culinary world, it aims to foster better relations between architects, contractors and timber suppliers.

Studying cross-laminated timber

Speaking of good relations, The Wayback, one of the two businesses housed in the ground floor of Albina Yard, opened its doors to eventgoers looking to enjoy a cocktail and some artfully spun tunes.

The Wayback interior

The Wayback DJ

As with any successful event, the AFO and Lever arranged to have catered nibbles on all floors and complementary wine, provided by L’angolo Estate—another Lever project success.

Platter of olives and meats

Assorted fruit platter

L'angolo Estate wine