Connection Design for Mass Timber Structures
Entuitive’s integrated approach to engineering has us constantly asking, how can we make the design process better for our clients and partners? And how can we add more value every step of the way to these great projects that we deliver for our great clients?
Connection design in mass timber is one area that we believe benefits greatly from this integrated approach.
Whether we are working on a design team in a traditional design-bid-build approach, performing specialty engineering services for our contractor clients, or working in alternative delivery models, such as design-build or integrated project delivery (IPD), our aim is to understand the unique goals and challenges of each project, contribute our technical expertise, and provide the best solution.
Mass timber in particular lends itself to this highly integrated approach, with each manufacturer having a unique line of products and preferred methods for fabricating and erecting these distinctive structures.
Often, the engineer of record will delegate connection design to the timber fabricator. However, by bringing this design scope in-house at Entuitive, we can offer more value to both parties.
Adapting to the Fabricator’s Products & Equipment: A Nimble Approach
Designers who work with mass timber know that every manufacturer has a slightly different product line, and most of them have well-developed brochures and product literature available on their websites. What is less well understood by the design community is what types of equipment each manufacturer has and exactly what processes they use to go from raw material to finished product. Two manufacturers who can lay up the same CLT panel, for example, may have very different preferences for how that panel is then cut to provide openings and connections.
For design-build and IPD projects, or when we work directly with fabricators as their specialty engineer, we can optimize the design around the most efficient processes for the fabricator, which helps save cost and time. On one recent IPD project, the timber supplier told us the fabrication of the columns was their most efficient glulam run ever.
Our team has delivered connection design on an array of projects. Keep reading for a couple of highlights below.
Private Residence, East Coast US
This project included significant amounts of architecturally exposed structure, including steel and glulam that was fabricated in Europe. A hybrid approach of designing to both US codes and the Eurocode was adopted, in consultation with the base building structural engineer of record.
The main showpieces and most challenging portions of the design were two areas framed with architecturally exposed and intersection glulam beams, curved in plan. The connections between the beams, which had to resist significant forces in both bending and torsion due to the curvature, were designed to remain fully concealed while also providing installation tolerances for the field crew.
Humber College Lakeshore Campus, Toronto, Ontario
This 375,000 ft² facility at Humber College will house the School of Creative Arts and includes a four-story mass timber student residence above a four-story concrete podium. The project includes glulam columns and beams, CLT floor and roof panels, and CLT shear walls.
Through an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) process, Entuitive has worked with the contractors from the earliest stages of the design. The complete structural design of the mass timber, including connections, remained in Entuitive’s scope as the structural engineer of record for the project.
By collaborating closely with the mass timber fabricator and installer, the design was optimized for both material efficiency and speed and ease of erection on site. Connections were designed to accommodate fasteners from multiple manufacturers to avoid delays associated with pandemic-related supply chain problems.
National Veterans Resource Center, Syracuse, New York
The National Veterans Resource Center (NVRC) is a facility dedicated to serving veterans and military families.
Designed by SHoP Architects, the project includes a sculptural timber feature wall that wraps around the central 750-seat auditorium and curves upward to form the ceiling.
Working for the timber fabricator as the delegated designer, we developed and designed the connections of the exposed timber slats to an integrated timber support structure as well as the connections of the entire system to the base building structure.
Detailed coordination was required with mechanical systems and other elements hidden behind the feature wall.
Our experience spans the entire spectrum of mass timber design, from early concepts to detailed connection designs, and this diverse portfolio helps us bring creative new ideas as well as proven techniques to our work. We are comfortable working with fabricators in both North America and Europe and designing to US, Canadian, or European building codes.
For more information on mass timber connection design, reach out to Tanya Luthi.