CTBUH Certifies Ascent, Milwaukee, as the World’s Tallest Mass Timber Hybrid Building

20 July 2022

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CTBUH officials traveled to Milwaukee on 20 July 2022 to declare the 25-story Ascent the World’s Tallest Timber-Concrete Hybrid Building.  The building took the world’s tallest title in two of the mass timber categories. Mjøstårnet in Brumunddal, Norway, certified by CTBUH in 2019, was the previous world’s tallest timber building at 85.4 meters. Ascent is now both the tallest timber building overall, as well as the tallest concrete-timber hybrid building. The previous tallest concrete-timber hybrid building was the 84-meter HoHo building completed in 2020 in Vienna, Austria.

Director of Research and Thought Leadership Daniel Safarik unveiled a plaque that will be displayed on the façade of the luxury apartment development that tops out at 86.6 meters (284 feet).  The project is a key case study in the CTBUH Research Project “Future Timber City: An Awareness and Educational Program for Future, Sustainable, Dense Cities,” supported by the USDA Forest Service and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council.

Ascent is a very exciting project,” Safarik said. “It is helping advance the conversation about how we build more sustainable and healthy cities, especially in the face of mass urbanization and the increasing effects of climate change.

The project, into which tenants began moving on 15 July, has been the subject of numerous news articles leading up to its completion, and was also prominently featured in the Engineering the Future documentary series episode “Timber Skyscraper,” (streaming on Amazon Prime).  Following the official certification ceremony, Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) Assistant Deputy Secretary Dan Hereth delivered a proclamation on behalf of Governor Tony Evers, which establishes the third week of July as “Mass Timber Week” in the US state of Wisconsin. DSPS has been instrumental in pursuing updates to state building codes to allow more mass timber projects to be built without compromising safety.

This has been a success story of the trials in building with mass timber. While Ascent broke ground in August 2020, it took approximately two years of research, testing, planning and collaboration with external stakeholders to get it there. The process brought together experts from around the world and has established a model for tall timber that may help pave the way for future projects. 

About half of Ascent’s mass timber structure remains visible inside the building, so residents can see and touch it, which is also an accomplishment in the collaborative efforts of testing and working with DSPS.  Other members of the industry and community spoke at the event including USDA Forest Service Regional Forester Gina Owens, Alderman Robert Bauman and DNR Secretary Preston Cole. The CEO of New Land Enterprises, Tim Gokhman, whose firm co-developed Ascent with partner Wiechmann Enterprises spoke at the event,

We didn’t set out to break records," Gokhman said, "We just wanted to create the best experience within the built environment for our residents. Mass timber is faster, more precise, lighter, more sustainable, more beautiful, and supports our commitment to biophilic design.

It is estimated that using mass timber for the structural system decreased construction time by approximately 25 percent, compared to a conventionally constructed concrete building of the same scale. Ascent was built using a “digital twin” model, so every beam, column and panel could arrive on site ready to assemble, with holes predrilled to within 1/16-inch (1.5-millimeter) accuracy.

For a complete background on tall mass timber buildings, visit the CTBUH Data Study The State of Tall Timber: A Global Audit.

For news articles on this event, go to:

Milwaukee Business Journal {subscription required}
Urban Milwaukee