Model building codes in the United States limit timber construction to six stories, due to concerns over fire safety and structural performance. With new timber technologies, tall timber buildings are now being planned for construction. The process for building approval for a building constructed above the code height limits with a timber load-bearing structure, is by an alternative engineering means. Engineering solutions are required to be developed to document and prove equivalent performance to a code compliant structure, where approval is based on substantive consultation and documentation. Architects in the US are also pushing the boundaries and requesting load-bearing timber be exposed and not fully encapsulated in fire rated gypsum drywall. This provides an opportunity for the application of recent fire research on exposed timber to be applied, and existing methods of analyzing the impact of fire on engineered timber structures to be developed further. This paper provides an overview of the performance based fire safety engineering required for building approval and also describes the engineering methodologies that can be utilized to address specific exposed load-bearing timber issues; concealed connections for glulam beams; and the methodology to address areas of exposed timber.
April 3-5, 2014, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
The second glued-laminated structure built in the United States was constructed at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in 1934 to demonstrate the performance of wooden arch buildings. After 75 years of use the structure was decommissioned in 2010. Shortly after construction, researchers structurally evaluated the gluedlaminated arch structure for uniform loading on the center arch. This structural system evaluation was added to the existing laboratory work on glued-laminated arches to develop the foundation on which the current glued-laminated arch design criteria is based. After 75 years of service and decommisioning, recovered arches were tested in the laboratory to evaluate the loss of structural performance. Loss of structural performance was evaluated by comparing original and current deformation. Based on a preliminary visual and structural assessment, the degradation of structural performance was minimal in the arches, except for two arch that were affected by the building fire.