The future of sustainable building: wooden skyscrapers

Metsä Wood and Michael Green reimagine the empire state building

Published: 02/07/2015 00:00

Together with Michael Green, the world-renowned architect and advocate of wood use in modern constructions, Metsä Wood has reimagined the Empire State Building in an all-together more timber form as part of its ongoing 'Plan B' campaign.

Metsä Wood's 'Plan B' campaign aims to highlight the fact that wood should always be considered as a serious option in everything from design to construction – also in buildings in which wood hasn't previously been used.

The design and construction plan for a wooden version of the Empire State Building was made by Canadian architect Michael Green and his firm MGA. Internationally recognized leader in timber engineering, Equilibrium Consulting, provided expertise on structural matters. Metsä Wood's own material and construction experts rounded out the team.

The iconic Empire State Building was a representative of innovations in structural steel in the 1920's. For nearly 40 years, it was the tallest building in the world. Michael commented: "While many things have changed in 85 years, architects still strive to give form to new ideas about structure, energy consumption and climate change, amongst other things. For these reasons, the most iconic building of the modern age - the Empire State Building - was chosen for this Plan B case and was designed using Metsä Wood's Kerto® LVL engineered wood as the main material from floors to column spacing."

Green is a strong believer that high-rise wooden buildings are not only possible, but may be the most practical and environmentally sound solution to addressing rapid global urbanization and climate change.

"I believe that the future belongs to tall wooden buildings. Significant advancements in engineered wood and mass timber products have created a new vision for what is possible for safe, tall, urban wood buildings. The challenge now is to change society's perception of what's possible," Michael continued.

Wood is not only a highly aesthetic and sustainable option but also efficient, fast to construct and enables light structures. It is also a more fireproof material than ordinary perceived.

"Wood construction is an ever-evolving business, and the market needs more innovative, sustainable, faster and effective solutions," explains SVP Jari Tikkanen from Metsä Wood.