World's tallest timber tower begins overtaking nearby buildings
Ascent's timber exterior

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Construction of Ascent, a 25-story mass timber building, is underway in downtown Milwaukee, and it's beginning to overtake nearby buildings. 

When completed the 284-foot residential complex will be the tallest wood tower in the world, rising 4 feet higher than a mix-used structure built in Brumunddal, Norway in 2019.

The $125 million building will feature a hybrid timber and concrete frame. It's being developed by New Land Enterprises and Wiechman Enterprises. 

Glulam timber panels for the project are being manufactured in Austria by Wiehag Timber and procured and managed by Timberlab of Portland, Ore. Cross-laminated timber panels are being supplied by KLH.

Wiehag's mass timber panels
Wiehag will ship glulam timber beams to the U.S. from Austria through ports in Newark, New Jersey or Montreal. Then they'll go by rail to Chicago, where they'll undergo a customs review before being trucked to Port Milwaukee.

The building, designed by Korb + Associates Architects, will have 259 luxury apartments. Its interior will feature exposed wood beams and floor decks.

Ascent's interior

New Land Enterprises managing director Tim Gorkman said the project attracted attention from investors right away - despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The interest in this project is proof that the aesthetic, construction and sustainability benefits of mass timber have captured the attention and imagination of a broad spectrum of people.”

New Land has already secured a number of reservations, including tenants for three penthouses. The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2022.

The project received a federal grant from the US Forest Service to assist with the testing needed to prove mass timber’s ability to perform as well as traditional building materials like concrete and steel to meet U.S. building codes.

Proponents say mass timber performs as well or even better than traditional materials in fire, earthquake and wind conditions.

New Land says Ascent's laminated timber beams, slabs and columns will offset the equivalent of CO2 produced by 2,500 cars or enough energy to power 1,200 homes per year.




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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected].