Courtesy of Perkins+Will
Cailey Rizzo
November 08, 2017

An 80-story wooden skyscraper could pop up along Chicago’s riverfront within the next 10 years — if architecture firm Perkins + Will, alongside structural engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti and the University of Cambridge, get their way.

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If completed, the River Beech Tower would be the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper and provide 300 residential apartments and “communal skyparks” for the neighborhood.

Courtesy of Perkins+Will

Visitors and residents would have access to green spaces throughout the building, including an atrium with glass on the ground floor and small “parks” along the building’s perimeter that would be visible from the outside.

The River Beech Tower is still just a concept research project and the design has changed since it was first proposed last year. However the project could point to a more eco-friendly future of lumber skylines. Architects in Vancouver, London and Stockholm are also experimenting with building multi-story wooden buildings.

Courtesy of Perkins+Will

The unconventional choice of building material has a smaller carbon footprint than concrete or steel.

“Trees entrain carbon as they grow, meaning even after the manufacturing process, engineered timber is inherently carbon neutral or better,” the architecture firm said. “In terms of overall carbon emissions, selecting a wood structure may be the single most impactful strategy the design team can make.”

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Perkins + Will wants to erect the River Beech Tower in conjunction with their newly-commissioned master plan for Riverline, a new community in Chicago’s South Loop along the Chicago River.

The final project will include 10 new buildings, a green space, and a river walk. Construction on the massive 10-year plan began last October.

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