Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Construction Begins On World’s Tallest Timber Tower

Ascent, a 25-story apartment tower, will be tallest mass timber building in the world.

By - Aug 31st, 2020 03:09 pm
Ascent. Rendering by Korb + Associates Architects.

Ascent. Rendering by Korb + Associates Architects.

Construction equipment had begun appearing on the site and piles were being driven.

Now New Land Enterprises has made it official: construction is underway on what will be the tallest mass timber building in the world.

The 25-story apartment tower, to be known as Ascent, is being constructed at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave. in Milwaukee’s East Town neighborhood. First proposed in 2018, the tower will contain 259 high-end apartments when complete.

A pool is planned on the sixth floor with fully operable windows. A sauna, steam room and entertainment center are also planned for what the firm is calling a “wellness floor.” The top floor of the tower will include a resident amenity level with two outdoor decks, fire pits, grilling stations, a clubhouse, kitchen and co-working space.

The tower relies on mass timber, an engineered product made by combining layers of lumber into a stronger material. The material is capable of building much taller buildings than conventional wood construction methods because it only chars (rather than burning through) in a fire and offers enhanced strength. Earlier this year a model unit passed a three-hour fire test. The building material is spreading quickly from Austria, where it was invented, and the Pacific Northwest, where it has been most commonly implemented in the United States.

Topping out at 283 feet, the building would surpass the 280-foot Mjos Tower in Norway. The building includes a six-story concrete base used as a parking garage.

“The issuance of building permits for Ascent represents a major milestone. This has been an incredible 2-year journey, working in continuous partnership with the City of Milwaukee, to create something rather extraordinary – a world-class residential project that is also a major carbon sink,” said Jason Korb, principal of building architect Korb + Associates Architects, in a statement.

New Land began pre-leasing the building in April and reports it has a number of commitments, made by a $500 deposit. It is scheduled to open in summer 2022.

“We are building a world class development with unmatched aesthetics and amenities, and a big part of that is being environmentally connected,” said New Land director Tim Gokhman. “We also went against the trend of building smaller apartments, incorporating some larger floor plans into the mix with smaller ones to accommodate a wider range of renters. Wanting to live in a location where you can walk to everything, as well as a built environment that makes you feel better, is appreciated by all generations, from Millennials to Boomers.”

A joint venture of Catalyst Construction and CD Smith is leading the building’s construction. The Portland office of general contractor Swinerton is also supporting the mass timber component of the project. Thornton Tomasetti is providing structural engineering services. The project team, in refining the building’s design and mechanical systems, has twice increased the building’s size. The latest modification added two floors to the building.

The building will be the city’s second mass timber structure. Ann Pieper Eisenbrown celebrated topping off her four-story mass timber addition to the Louis Bass Building at 331 S. 3rd St. in early December and completed the building earlier this year. And New Land has a seven-story, mass timber office building planned for Westown.

For more on Ascent, including mass timber, the site history and amenity information, see our Ascent building page.


January Site Photos

Early August Site Photos

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