Perhaps the most potent essay within Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, published in 1949, is “Thinking Like a Mountain,” a text in which Leopold, an ecologist, writes about a mountain which witnesses the extermination of its wolves. He describes witnessing wolf-less terrain now overrun by deer who eat through the plant life, denuding the slopes. “Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise,” Leopold wrote.
The phrase “thinking like a mountain,” in Leopold’s usage, implies some form of static, eternal knowledge. To think like a forest, however, requires more nimbleness and concern for change: Forests can be grown, cut down, and regrown. A concern for the forest invites a consideration for how wood products of all varieties are sourced and manufactured. For architects, it means deeply—and quickly—reconsidering how we evaluate where our building materials come from and doing our part to reduce the carbon emissions that come from creating the built environment. According to Architecture 2030, the embodied carbon of building structure, substructure, and enclosures are responsible for 11 percent of global GHG emissions and 28 percent of global building sector emissions. The organization calls for a 65 percent reduction in this figure by 2030 and zero–embodied carbon emissions by 2040.
This special issue about mass timber offers a resource about the building system for AN’s readers. It collects mass timber news produced by the publication in addition to an updated map of resources—schools, organizations, manufacturers, and planned factories.
In addition to a roundup of recent ecological books, which a focus on the forest. Additionally, we’re fortunate to share an excerpt from Lindsey Wikstrom’s recent and excellent book Designing the Forest, published by Routledge; read its case for developing non-extractive design languages on.
As the case studies indicate, mass timber is quickly becoming integrated into the repertoire of structural solutions available to architects. See one of the few mass timber buildings in Mexico, designed by Dellekamp + Schleich, in addition to projects where CLT slabs lighten carbon footprints while leaving exteriors free to express other, non-woody architectural ambitions.
On the back pages, check out a recent 2×4 installation by Barkow Leibinger. And, up front on, don’t miss a preview of AN Media Group’s Renew, Reuse, Regrow virtual event, which will be held on December 6. We hope to see you there.