Edison Rises: America’s Top Timber Skyscraper to Use 100k ft³ of Lumber!

The Edison will feature a 32-story building with a cross-laminated and glue-laminated timber hybrid system over a post-tensioned concrete base

Wed 19 Jun 24


The sound of pile driving will soon echo through downtown Milwaukee as construction work begins on The Edison, a 32-story mass timber apartment tower on the Milwaukee River with C. D. Smith appointed contractor to deliver America’s largest mass timber project to date.

Wood Central understands that test piles at the 1005 N. Edison Street site will start next week, ahead of full construction, now slated to begin in early August. C. D. Smith – which, in April, finished work on Bakers Place Milwakee’s first mass timber high-rise – was engaged by developers Neutral Projects (who was also responsible for developing Bakers Place) with Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture designing the project, which could use more than 100,000 cubic feet of Lumber.

The United States’ tallest mass timber building will be located on the banks of the Milwaukee River, sparking a timber building surge across the American Midwest. (Renders courtesy of Hartshorne Plunkard Architects)

The Edison will be developed on the banks of the Milwaukee River, quite appropriately, on the grounds where a historic timber yard once stood: “We, along with the Neutral Project, are looking to make this ambitious project the proof of concept for mass timber construction in the US,” according to documents submitted by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture to the city earlier this year, before adding that the use of mass timber parts will reduce embodied carbon emissions by up to 70% compared to traditional materials.

Mass timber is part of the developer’s mission to construct carbon-neutral buildings. According to Daniel Glaessi, a partner at Neutral Project, “At completion, the building will be one of the tallest mass timber hybrid structures in the world, utilising nearly 100,000 cubic feet of lumber.”

Wood Central understands that Edison will set a new, ultra-high standard in green housing, including Passive House  (following PHIUS CORE 2021) principles, a high-performance building standard administered by Phius (Passive House Institute of the US).

Earlier this year, Hartshorne Plunkard Architects provided new renders to city officials for planning approval. (Renders courtesy of Hartshorne Plunkard Architects)

In recent months, mass timber-based construction systems have been embraced as a preferred method for mixed-use and residential projects—especially in the 12-18-storey sweet spot.

According to a CBS report in March, tall timber buildings are now becoming mainstream across the United States – with demand for timber buildings, especially in the American South, expected to surge 25-fold over the next 50 years. That’s because they are lighter, more sustainable, and faster to construct than conventional steel and concrete systems.

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According to new research, the United States demand for mass timber is expected to grow between 452 million cubic metres to 750 million cubic metres over the 50-year projected period, with “the greatest adoption rates projected for the seven-stories and higher,” fuelled by a surge in new buildings in the South (43%), followed by the West (23%), the Midwest (21%) and the Northeast (13%).

From the groundbreaking, the new building is expected to top out in mid-2027 after a 30-month construction period.

“We want to break ground in the second quarter of 2024 after securing funding in the first quarter…being a mass timber project, The Edison has an edge with private investors and banks setting guidelines for sustainable projects.”

Daniel Glaessi, a partner at Neutral Project.

Mr Glaessi said the building will also fill the city’s housing market void: “[Milwaukee] is a very innovation-friendly city, and the market conditions are very good,” adding that, “in other parts of the country, it’s hard to develop without speaking of sustainable development.”

  • To learn more about the surge in mass timber construction across the United States and the American South’s role in driving mid-rise and high-rise timber construction, visit Wood Central’s special feature.


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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