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Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 05:03 pm

Woodn't it be nice

 It might seem perverse to be concerned about how to construct new buildings when the Republic is falling down around our ears, but the world moves on, even if millions of Americans refuse to move with it.

Back in 2014 I looked at the possibilities in building buildings of wood—cheaper, greener, and quicker rather than steel. The  technology, if proven, might open up new markets for the green products of the Illinois countryside.

Crain’s Chicago Business recently wrote of work going on in that promising field in Chicago. Working with the University of Cambridge in England, structural engineers from the Chicago office of Thornton Tomasetti are studying the limits of available, locally sourced timber materials in the construction of a high-rise they've dubbed the River Beech Tower. Architects have imagined two 80-story honeycombed towers set on the Chicago River made of pre-made sections off-loaded from barges and assembled on-site. Two stories will be built next summer to study how best to join the structure's modules.

As I noted in my column,  no American manufacturer produces the cross-laminated timber components needed for such projects. Central Illinois would be perfect spot for such a plant, being near major building markets and served by an excellent transport system.
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