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Exploring Innovation in Construction: A Peek into IMTC and the World of Mass Timber

By Aaron Willette

The International Mass Timber Conference (IMTC) took place from March 26th - 28th in Portland, bringing together the brightest minds and boldest ideas to share their enthusiasm for mass timber. While the event has all the trappings of  your typical industry conference, it is best thought of as the yearly gathering of the global mass timber community, providing a gateway into a critical component of modern construction for anyone interested. Attendees are immersed in the the latest advancements and trends in mass timber and its associated technologies, and after being exposed to all of this (and more), the buzz of excitement is still ringing in everyone’s ears!


For anyone not already familiar with mass timber, its important to understand that it is not just a single type of product, but rather a member of a class of wood products that combine wood’s natural strengths with modern engineering. These engineered wood products are built on the concept that gluing smaller, defect-free pieces of wood together results in a material that is stronger than a similarly-sized solid wood product. Explaining the different types of mass timber products within this larger category would be a lengthy process, but some of the more common type on the market include cross-laminated timber (CLT), glulam, and mass plywood panel (MPP).[1]


When people think of mass timber, they often think of tall-timber projects such as the 284-foot tall Ascent apartment building in Milwaukee, where mass timber post, beam, and slab components are manufactured offsite and assembled on-site in a manner similar to a traditional structural steel construction. Historically these tall-timber projects have been the majority of projects in North America, but mass timber is increasingly found in offsite prefabrication of smaller mid-rise, industrial, and residential project in both panelized and volumetric builds.

IMTC helps educate individuals new to the industry about the entire spectrum of solutions possible with mass timber with tours of buildings constructed with mass timber and mass timber manufacturing facilities. An intensive introductory workshop is offered every year that delves into a range of topics including building codes, structural design requirements, and the environmental benefits of the mass timber. With these events making so much information accessible, IMTC is clearly the premier destination for anyone curious about mass timber and how they could include it in their own projects,


In addition to these broader sessions, the conference also has information’s sessions, an exhibit hall, and networking events. Information sessions delve into the heart of mass timber innovation and explore the latest developments and research in the field. The exhibition hall showcases everything from state-of-the-art machinery to innovative prefab systems - a truly unique opportunity to get inspired by the latest offerings from the mass timber ecosystem. Networking is perhaps the thread the ties everything happening at IMTC together, with numerous opportunities to socialize and connect with like-minded professions with a wide range of expertise.


If you happen to be reading this and are immediately hit with a wave of regret for not attending this year’s IMTC, fear not, for the dates for next year’s event have already been set. From March 25th - 27th, the wonderful city of Portland, Oregon will again host the mass timber industry and all of its experts, an event we at Offsite Dirt highly recommend you make the time to attend if mass timber is remotely on your radar. If waiting another year is too long there are a number of phenomenal resources available to you, and recommend the following: - Explore a wealth of resources and educational materials on mass timber construction through the Woodworks website. From design guides to case studies, Woodworks offers invaluable insights for architects, engineers, and builders alike.


The International Mass Timber Report - Stay informed about the latest trends and developments in mass timber construction with the Mass Timber Report. This comprehensive resource provides in-depth analysis and commentary on the state of the industry, helping you stay ahead of the curve.


Designing the Forest, and Other Mass Timber Futures, by Lindsey Wikstrom - Dive into the world of sustainable architecture with Designing the Forest, a groundbreaking book that explores the transformative potential of mass timber construction. Discover how mass timber is reshaping the future of building design.




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