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Alvidrez High Rise Housing Uses Mass Timber Frame

What began as a competition to explore mass timber in high-rise design in California has blossomed into a fully funded supportive housing development. Located in Skid Row, the Alvidrez is a 14-story tower containing 150 studio apartments and “support spaces” on the ground floor, which will include case management, individual and group counseling, and group activities to improve the health and well-being of residents. A collaboration between JAMA, Michael Maltzan Architecture, and Skid Row Housing Trust, the project is currently in concept design and expected to break ground in mid-2022.

The “vertical bundle” massing of this permanent supportive housing development was determined in part by the construction logic of its framing system. A mass timber gravity system is being combined with a traditional lateral system to meet sustainability guidelines, while the units were designed using modular building blocks made of mass timber floor planks, steel or glulam beams, and glulam columns. The varying heights and elevations of the bundles create outdoor roof terraces on the 2nd, 5th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th floors. These terraces serve as important places for residents to enjoy the outdoors while also allowing for more natural light and ventilation to reach individual apartments.

A key effort by Principal Matt Timmers over the last several years has been to show that Mass Timber is just as fire resistant and provides equal structural integrity as other systems, but it brings the benefits of being lighter in weight, more sustainable, and can save erection time during construction. As the system is close to being adopted into the 2021 IBC and this project becomes a built reality, cities across California will be able to look at systems like this as a repeatable model for building high-quality, low-income multifamily housing.