NewsLocal News


Timber tower rising over Milwaukee a ‘greener’ way to build

Posted at 5:30 AM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 23:27:41-05

MILWAUKEE — There is something different about the tower rising at the corner of Van Buren and Kilbourn.

Developer Tim Gokhman would love to tell you all about it.

"The structure of the building — the vertical, the columns and the horizontal, the beams — are made of wood," Gokhman said.

Gokhman is the managing director of New Land Enterprises, and a driving force behind using one of the oldest building materials to re-shape Milwaukee's skyline.

The name of this building is Ascent.

Gokhman's choice to use wood is getting attention from around the world.

Not just any wood, though. This is "mass timber."

"Mass timber is lighter, faster, more precise. All in all, we see it as a better way to build," he said.

The building arrives on trucks in giant, precision pieces.

Inside the 25-story building, all that wood is left exposed giving the building a natural, airy feel.

It all fits together perfectly and much faster than traditional concrete and steel.

"It's almost twice as fast. We're putting up, at this point, about a floor a week," he said.

That saved time and energy is just one of the ways Ascent is a greener way to build.

Research shows a mass timber building goes up 25% faster than concrete and requires 90% less construction traffic.

If this method really catches on, it could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 15%.

"It's not just a more sustainable way of building, it's a way of building with the only material that's by definition sustainable — can be grown over and over and over again," he said.

Getting to a place where this type of building is truly sustainable will take demand and time.

Right now, these timber beams are created in Austria and shipped to Wisconsin.

If mass timber catches on, that distance could get much shorter.

"So hopefully — not hopefully — it is just a matter of time before production ramps up in the United States to supply a building like this. In fact, we might already be there," he said.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip