Gensler Explores Building the Materials of Tomorrow
The building material of tomorrow could be one from our past: wood. Take Next: Lab Building of the Future, a Gensler Research Institute concept that envisions the evolution of science workplaces, an exercise undertaken because the demand for such spaces is skyrocketing in many markets. By employing mass timber instead of conventional concrete, the team, led by Gensler principal and global sciences practice leader Chad Yoshinobu, was able to shorten speed-to-market time by 30 percent, reduce construction waste by 75 percent, and use a staggering 80 percent less carbon overall. The natural quality of the exposed timber is also a benefit, contributing to a prefabricated interior that’s warm and authentic. “The data was a great outcome but not why we set out to do this,” Yoshinobu says. “It was to change the trajectory of what a science building could be.” There were challenges, however. The flexible grid Gensler imagined was prone to vibration, in particular, what Yoshinobu calls a “bouncy floor,” which is not viable when dealing with lab equipment. But partners Buro Happold and KPFF Consulting Engineers were able to provide stabilization solutions—just as mass timber could be a solution to our climate crisis.
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