The new tallest mass timber building in the world

25 July 2022

David Rowlinson

In the hyper-competitive arena of who can build the tallest mass timber building – i.e. made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (GLT) – in the world, Ascent, a building situated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is, at least for the moment, enjoying that accolade from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which certifies building records for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Though the building won’t be completed until September 2022, co-developer New Land Enterprises, recently celebrated that the building – constructed of mass timber atop a concrete base – was officially named the world’s tallest timber-construction building in the world.

Ascent has edged out the previous record-holder, Mjøstårnet, an 18-storey mixed-use building in Norway, by 1.2 metres. 

The residential floors are constructed above five levels of concrete parking garage, using a system of GLT beams and columns support CLT floors. Two concrete cores provide lateral stability.

Designed by Korb + Associates Architects, Ascent comprises 259 apartments, and mass timber is exposed on ceilings, posts and cross-members. Local building codes limit the amount of the timber that can be exposed inside the building due to fire regulations. However, after 14 three-hour fire tests at a University of Wisconsin lab, as well as coordination with, and inspection by, the Milwaukee Fire Department, it was given the go-ahead.

“Ascent is a very exciting project.” said CTBUH Director of Research and Thought Leadership Daniel Safarik. 

“It is helping advance the conversation about how we build more sustainable and healthy cities, especially in the face of mass urbanisation and the increasing effects of climate change.” 

Article first appeared in Built Offsite

Photo of the author: David Rowlinson
David Rowlinson

David hails from Lancashire, England and has lived in Australia since 1994. He studied Architecture at Sheffield University and also has an MBA from Macquarie University and a Master of Marketing from UNSW. Prior to joining Planet Ark in 2016 David was Marketing Manager then CEO of a major Sydney-based manufacturer of modular carpets used in all commercial building applications. His proudest achievement was the development of an industry-leading environmental sustainability agenda, including the unique Earthplus product reuse program.

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