Apartment

Tree (house) grows in Brooklyn; Six-storey building with wooden beams

From the street, 670 Union Street looks like one in a line of brick buildings on a tree-lined block in Brooklyn.

But inside, the exposed wooden beams, columns, and floors make it clear that this 14-unit condominium isn’t your typical New York building.

“Timber House is the first solid wood condominium building in the city, possibly the state,” said Eric Liftin, principal of Mesh Architectures and architect and co-developer of the condo, in an interview.

“It is constructed from a timber frame, which is very unusual for a six-storey building like this, which would normally be constructed of concrete and steel.”

Timber House, completed in May after approximately 2.5 years of construction, is made of glued laminated timber, a type of structural engineered wood known as solid wood. In this case, the wood is Douglas Fir from Washington State.

Eric Liftin, director of Mesh Architectures and architect and co-developer of the condo, speaks during an interview in an apartment in Timber House, the city’s first mass timber condominium building, in New York on August 16 2022.

Liftin said log buildings are more common in the Pacific Northwest. Europe also has buildings supported by timber beams, and a 25-story mass timber mixed-use building opened this summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The architect said he chose wood for its aesthetic qualities and its negative carbon footprint.

“Wood is a renewable resource,” Liftin said. “As an alternative to concrete and steel, it’s a beautiful material that creates incredible spaces to live in and is a sustainable way to build.”

Construction operations are also energy efficient. Timber House is highly insulated, its roof is equipped with solar panels and uses electric heat pumps for heating and cooling. Each parking space in its garage downstairs has an electric vehicle charging station.

A view of an apartment inside Timber House, the city's first mass timber condominium building, in New York on August 16, 2022.

A view of an apartment inside Timber House, the city’s first mass timber condominium building, in New York on August 16, 2022.

Liftin said he hopes the building will serve as a model for future building in New York.

Suzan Wines, owner of I-Beam Design and adjunct associate professor at the City College of New York’s School of Architecture, described the climate change benefits of wood.

“Steel and concrete have a pretty large carbon footprint in terms of production,” Wines said, noting that each material accounts for about 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. “…Wood, on the other hand, essentially has a zero or negative carbon footprint” because trees sequester carbon as they grow, she said.

“So it basically gives the trees an almost negative impact.”

Solar panels are seen with a view of the neighborhood and lower Manhattan from the rooftop of Timber House, the city's first log-condominium building, in New York City on Aug. 16, 2022.

Solar panels are seen with a view of the neighborhood and lower Manhattan from the rooftop of Timber House, the city’s first log-condominium building, in New York City on Aug. 16, 2022.

Regarding fire safety, Mr Liftin said solid wood is not highly flammable, forms an insulating “charred layer” when burned and can maintain its structure in response to fire for as long as the fire. steel can.

Wines noted that the 2021 International Building Code added a provision allowing buildings up to 18 stories using wood.

Prices range from under $600,000 for a studio to over $3 million for a three-bedroom apartment. Twelve of the 14 condos have been sold and residents are expected to begin moving out this fall.


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