MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee will soon be home to the tallest mass timber structure in the world.
That will be a reality when contractors top off the new Ascent apartment building next month. The structure is slated to be complete by August of 2022.
The building will be 284 feet tall and contain 259 apartments. But the most notable aspect of the structure is that it is built from mass timber, meaning it was constructed using a variety of pieces of wood slabs connected together - instead of the traditional concrete and steel.
“Milwaukee is building it, not New York, not Chicago, Milwaukee is,” Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat CEO Antony Wood told our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal. The council as well as developers and others toured the building on Nov. 9.
“It’s a long time since the U.S. has been able to say it’s building the world’s tallest anything, so it’s a huge deal. I’m really pleased about that, and pleased for the parties behind it who had the [guts] to invest in it," Wood said.
Many of America's cities used to be made of wood, until the threat of fires forced technologies like brick, concrete and steel to become more available to protect buildings from such hazards.
But developers say this modern version of the wood building is safe. They told the BizJournal they did their own fire testing of the manufactured wood floor decks and columns to prove it. They also answered building code questions regarding how much of the mass timber ceilings and columns can be exposed.
Concrete will still be used for elevator and stairwell shafts.
New Land Enterprises and Wiechmann Enterprises are developing the Ascent apartment building.