Designed by Vancouver-based Michael Green Architecture (MGA) in conjunction with architect-of-record DLR Group, the seven storey office building in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighbourhood is the largest mass timber building in the United States.

When developer Hines approached MGA with the project, they envisioned T3 as a unique model of new-office building; an opportunity to offer a modern interpretation of the robust character of historic wood, brick, stone and steel buildings with the additional benefits of state-of-the-art amenities, environmental performance and technical capability, a release states.

According to MGA, the project is “an investment in both the past and future of Minneapolis and in the Warehouse District’s rich history.”

As businesses look to new competitive models for attracting staff, the goal for T3 was to provide a warm and inviting environment that would attract and retain employers and employees, the release reads.

T3, which stands for Timber, Technology, Transit, consists of 224,000 square feet of office and retail space.

More than 3,600 cubic metres of exposed mass timber columns, beams and floor slabs recall the heavy timber construction of the building’s predecessors. T3’s approach uses engineered wood components, chiefly glulam and nail laminated timber (NLT), for the roof, floors, columns and beams, and furniture.

A significant amount of the lumber used to fabricate the NLT comes from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle.

MGA stated these modern materials bring the “warmth and beauty of wood to the interior, and promote a healthy indoor environment for occupants.”

As a result of its wood structure, T3 was erected at a speed exceeding conventional steel-framed or concrete buildings, the release states. In less than 10 weeks, 180,000 square feet of timber framing went up, averaging 30,000 square feet of floor area installed per week.

It is also lighter than comparable steel or concrete structures, reducing the depth and extent of excavation and foundations. Additionally, the embodied carbon in the building’s wood structural system is lower than that found in conventional buildings throughout most of downtown Minneapolis and its North Loop neighbourhood.

The building’s esthetic success can also be attributed to the mass timber construction.

Candice Nichol, MGA associate and T3 project lead, said “the texture of the exposed NLT is quite beautiful. The small imperfections in the lumber and slight variation in colour of the mountain pine beetle wood only add to the warmth and character of the new space.”

Extensive exterior glazing at every level as well as views into the ground level social workspace with wood furniture, booths and a feature stair, allow the public to experience the building.

“The entire timber structure of T3 was intentionally left exposed and illuminated with interior lighting directed up to the ceiling,” Nichol said. At night, “the illuminated wood will glow through the exterior openings.”