Andrew Waugh brings Timber Age to the Northwest

Round table discussion at the University of Washington
Roundtable discussion at the University of Washington

The world of Mass Timber is moving fast all over the world and this week it got a boost from one of the world leaders in designing and building with wood. For those of you who may not know, there is an architecture firm in London, Waugh Thistleton, that has been pushing clients to look at the benefits of building with wood. Andrew paid a visit to both the Portland and Seattle areas last week (April 18-22) to meet with groups and individuals about his work over the past decade in the UK. I was fortunate enough to spend time with him to discuss CLT and Mass Timber in a few different settings.

Andrew speaking at UW

Andrew and his team are the real deal. They have been urging their clients to use “Timber” (In the US we use either wood or lumber to describe the same thing) in their urban developments. This drive comes from their real desire to do what’s best for the environment. They don’t think it’s enough just to put some solar panels or a windmill on the top of your building and say, ‘Look, we care about the environment.’ He acknowledges that concrete and steel are necessary to build with, but not exclusively. He makes this point very eloquently when he shows a slide of his presentation that has an image of his hand with some seeds in the palm and says, “This is what it took to create the product for that building.”


Artist rendition of Murray Grove in CLT
Rendition of Murray Grove in CLT

In 2005, he used the wood generated from similar seeds to create the first major tall wood building in the UK, Murray Grove.  He had plenty of critics when he started, but the nine-storey building came together and is a smashing success. Some stats to back this up are that the apartments were in such demand from people that wanted to buy and occupy the 29 residences that the entire building sold out in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Even further evidence that it works is that 11 years later nearly all of the flats are occupied by the original owners.


Since 2005, there have been many other buildings build using CLT and Mass Timber components, including the building Andrew calls home.

Andrew lives in the upper center apartment
Andrew lives in the upper center apartment of this building in Shoreditch

Initially, the team at Waugh Thistleton had to convince developers to consider the use of CLT in their buildings. It was tough bringing potential clients up to speed on what the product was, let alone dispell myths and concerns about using CLT. Today they are in demand that fuels the rapid growth of their firm. Currently, clients are coming to them. Andrew considers themselves a ‘Timber First’ business that has 22 current projects, 21 in wood.

One of those is Dalston Lane, which is the largest global CLT project. The residential building is ten-storeys and has over of 172,000 square feet of space. This structure has some very telling statistics. First, if it were constructed of concrete, it would have weighed in at 10,000 tons, however by using CLT, it’s only 1,930 tons. The overall construction time is eight months less than conventional methods as well as reducing construction costs by 15%.

Dalston Lane in CLT
Dalston Lane in CLT

Andrew is full of great information. I feel very fortunate to have been introduced to him and look forward to working with him to advance the global use of Timber. It’s ideal for the rural communities where the product is made, beneficial for our cities and best of all it’s the best building material for the planet.

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