In 2018, architecture firm Hickok Cole published a design concept for Timber Towers, a trio of mixed-use high-rises that would use wood as the principal structural material. The concept, which won an honorable mention in the SKYHIVE Skyscraper Challenge, was designed to span an entire block in Center City to the northwest of the Comcast Technology Center. According to the architects, the 1.9-million-square-foot plan would use 2,075,125 cubic feet of wood products, “easily replenished by North American forests in less than three hours,” and sequester 80,775 US tons of carbon dioxide within the structure, resulting in emissions savings are the equivalent those produced by 12,073 cars within one year.
Rather than an actual proposal, Timber Towers is a concept meant to showcase an innovative type of construction. Unlike virtually all high-rises built up to now, which have a steel, concrete, or a composite structure, the buildings would use cross-laminated timber technology to create structures composed of thick lumber members. The beams and the floors would also be made completely out of wood, while the glass exterior would feature glass thick lumber cross-bracing.
The plan would include 1,300,871 square feet of office space, 102,642 square feet of condo/co-working space, 78,930 square feet of educational space, 31,330 square feet of office amenity space, and 29,188 square feet of retail. The residential tower would house 289 rental units.
The tallest tower appears to be in the 800-foot range. If built, the project would have an incredible impact, both on the skyline and on the construction market. And though the towers would awkwardly block the Comcast Technology Center from view when seen from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and would arguably throw off the appearance of the skyline from certain view corridors, the buildings step up toward the skyline core as a pleasant gesture that builds up to the skyline’s massing.
No completion date is available as the design is a purely hypothetical project that, as far as we know, is not considered for actual construction.