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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Wood has been utilized by humans for thousands of years in the construction of our built environment. More recently, our expanded understanding of the material and the advancement of engineered wood have allowed us to use wood like never before. Concrete and steel, however, have emerged as the main materials used in large scale construction in the late 19th and 20th Centuries. As we are battling and searching for solutions to climate change, the importance of wood in large scale construction has increased as not only is its carbon intensity is lower than steel and concrete, but its existence stems from sequestered carbon. Yet as timber finds its way into large-scale projects, the forms it takes resemble those of concrete construction. Although this form is functional, it does not take full advantage of its capabilities or mitigate the weaknesses of wood.

This thesis is concerned with exploring new options for mass timber, finding forms more appropriate to wood’s mechanical and aesthetic properties. Research began with precedent studies of existing mass timber structures to see which strategies would be useful in the project. Next a theoretical project was undertaken to design an 18-story timber-based high rise in Denver, Colorado. The design uses a variety of Engineered Wood Products (EWP) in the most effective and efficient way.

The findings of this study have shown that wood, being an isotropic material, prefers to have forces run parallel to its grain. Combining multiple types of engineered wood arranged to create forces traveling parallel to their fiber grain direction created a system that was efficient, strong, and architecturally effective. The design also works to avoid subjecting wood to forces perpendicular to its wood grain, thus avoiding its weaknesses. Finally, the design uses common, stock, engineered lumber products to make the project more economical. It produced a high rise design that serves as a highly desirable model for future projects across the United States and world. This technology will not be limited to high rises and can be used in a plethora of large-scale building types. Broader implementation of this technology will help to decrease our species’ carbon footprint as our population expands and builds. More material efficient structural solutions will encourage wider spread implementation and their aesthetic qualities will increase their desirability by private and government investors alike.


First Advisor

Ajla Aksamija

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.