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  • Matthew Umberger & Aaron Kilgore

Harnessing the Power of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT): The KC Current Training Facility & Cross Cabin

Blog header w/ title of blog and images of KC Current Training Facility & Cross Cabin

In the ever-evolving landscape of the construction industry, keeping up with sustainable and innovative materials is crucial. One such material is Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). At Apex, we are at the forefront of incorporating CLT in our projects, working closely with architects, suppliers, and builders to execute both sustainable and aesthetically beautiful structures.

The Rise of CLT in the United States

CLT consists of lumber boards layered and glued together to form a robust, durable, and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional construction materials. CLT has been utilized for decades in Europe and is gaining immense popularity across the United States. Our team has had the opportunity to design CLT projects across the country, working to solve problems while acquiring extensive knowledge on the subject.

Apex Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) Project Highlights:

KC Current Training Facility – Kansas City, MO

Exterior of KC Current Training Facility
KC Current Training Facility

Our team not only had the honor of providing the structural design for the first purpose-built training complex for a women’s professional sports team in the United States, but also the largest mass timber project in the Kansas City area. This history-making project was constructed using glulam beans and columns and CLT floor and roof panels.

The use of CLT in this project stemmed from supply chain challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in significant delays in the delivery of conventional building materials. However, the rapid construction advantages of mass timber offered an appealing and effective solution. Many factors helped the mass timber superstructure on this project go up quickly—an efficient shop drawing process with the timber supplier, light-weight structural members (when compared to steel) are easier to maneuver, and the simplicity of wood-to-wood connections to name a few. The building truly went together like a set of LEGOs.

Renderings of KC Current Training Facility
Renderings of training facility

Cross Cabin - Austin, TX

Exterior of Cross Cabin
Cross Cabin - Photo credit Casey Woods

The Cross Cabin originated from an idea of what it would look like to put the environment first when building a home – resulting in a two-bedroom, two-bath house built entirely from plant-based, carbon-negative materials. Apex worked closely with the Cross Cabin Build + Supply Team on the structural diagram to maximize the efficiency of the CLT panels that make up the floor and roof.

Advantages of Using Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT)

1. Sustainability

The built environment is responsible for about 42% of annual global CO2 emissions with the embodied carbon of just four building and infrastructure materials – cement, iron, steel, and aluminum - making up 15% of that number (Architecture 2030). It is on all of us working in the industry to work towards reducing our carbon footprint.

CLT is made from sustainably harvested wood and has a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional building materials, making it an excellent choice for eco-conscious projects. Additionally, CLT offers exceptional thermal performance, reducing the energy required for heating and cooling a building, thereby lowering the structure's overall carbon footprint.

2. Structural Strength

When it comes to structural efficiency, CLT offers many benefits that are hard to overlook. The high strength-to-weight ratio means you get material that is both light and strong, making it versatile for a wide range of structural applications. The cross-lamination process grants CLT excellent dimensional stability. This stability manifests in minimal material deformation, offering superior performance under both vertical and lateral loads.

3. Design Flexibility

The adaptability of CLT to various architectural forms provides designers with a level of freedom that is seldom matched by traditional materials. The strength of CLT panels allows for large spans with fewer internal supports, enabling architects to create vast, open spaces. Furthermore, CLT can be manufactured to exact specifications, facilitating a modular or prefabricated design approach. This precise engineering coupled with its aesthetic versatility makes CLT a robust yet flexible solution for modern construction needs.

4. Speed of Construction

One of the most compelling advantages of CLT is the speed it brings to the construction process. Panels can be manufactured off-site to the exact specifications needed for a project. When these panels arrive on-site, they are ready for immediate assembly, dramatically reducing construction time. This prefabrication not only speeds up project timelines but also significantly cuts down on labor costs. Additionally, with fewer construction activities taking place on-site, there is less site disruption, resulting in a quieter, cleaner, and more efficient construction environment.

Contact Matthew or Aaron with questions on how Apex can partner with you on your next CLT project.


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