Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

Foundation Work Underway for World’s Tallest Timber Tower

Before Ascent goes up, it has to go down.

By - Sep 25th, 2020 05:24 pm
The tower crane is being assembled for the Ascent apartment tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The tower crane is being assembled for the Ascent apartment tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s just a hole in the ground now, but in the coming months a new structure will emerge from the long-time parking lot at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave.

The 25-story apartment tower, to be known as Ascent, will be the world’s tallest mass timber building.

Mass timber is 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.

The building will contain 259 apartments. 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.

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

New Land Enterprises is leading the development. Korb + Associates Architects is leading the building design.

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

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 contracting team, with an assist from Michels Corp., is currently constructing the building’s foundation.

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.

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