High-rise buildings constructed from wood are having a bit of a moment. And that begs an important question: could the Empire State Building, the quintessential skyscraper, be built using wood?

Finnish forestry company Metsä Wood teamed up with Canadian architect Michael Green to tackle that question, as part of Metsa’s Plan B project. The final concept is for a wooden building that is the same height, floor height, and column spacing, but with design changes made to accommodate the structural differences between steel and wood.

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As you might imagine, raw wooden beams won’t cut it for a giant skyscraper. So, the design calls for wood taken from young trees, glued together into enormous panels, 8 feet by 64 feet. Perhaps most surprisingly, this wooden material (called Kerto) performs well in case of a fire, meeting the EN 1995-1-2 standard, and in some cases outperforming concrete:

To achieve the fire ratings required for 102 story building, additional fire protection would still be required in the form of sprinklers, and drywall, but many parts of the wood structure could remain exposed. In contrast, the steel structure of the Empire State Building needs to be fully protected by insulation, drywall, stone and other fire resistant materials to provide safe resistance to fire.

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The full concept plan for the project is over on Metsä’s website, with techical details and construction plans coming in the next few weeks. [Metsä via ArchDaily]


Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

Image credit: Metsa Wood

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