Mass timber is undoubtedly changing the way we build with wood, and is quickly becoming a more popular and faster alternative to building tall with timber rather than with more conventional materials. In May 2018, Kaiser Group in Portland received a $250 000 Wood Innovation Grant from the USDA Forest Service to conduct feasibility research on The Spar, which is now slated to be built in downtown Portland.

Project Essentials

  • LocationPortland, Oregon
  • ClientKaiser Group
  • ArchitectPath Architecture
  • Size401,000 ft2, 450' tall

The task put to our team by the client was to create a 450-foot tall mass timber tower in a practical and economic way.  The feasibility study was a rigorous effort to create something that is real, buildable, and competitive.

Combining our recent experience on Brock Commons, 3 Civic Plaza and other work, Fast + Epp is taking a holistic approach with the structural system for this tower, and is using the full suite of structural materials, where they make sense.

By taking advantage of the respective material properties of mass timber, steel, and concrete, Fast + Epp is able to tackle the unique challenges associated with a tall hybrid timber tower including wind-induced vibrations, axial shortening, and weather protection during construction.

Creating the structural design for this tall hybrid timber tower opens the doors to a new dawn of timber engineering. By identifying and providing practical solutions to the challenges associated with tall hybrid timber, this design demonstrates the possibilities for high-rise sustainable architecture and solidifies the Pacific Northwest as a region that leads the world in tall mass timber construction.