The Skyscraper Museum continues its “Mass Timber Semester” lecture series, which brings together key voices in the Mass Timber movement to reflect on its short history, current condition, and promising future, with an IN-PERSON program at SOM’s lower Manhattan office at 7 World Trade Center.

A decade ago, concerns about energy consumption in the building sector focused on operational carbon – particularly, emissions associated with heating and cooling. Today, though, the discussion has shifted in part to embodied carbon, which can also be called “upfront carbon,” because it is carbon released into the atmosphere before the building even opens its doors. Embodied carbon measures the first-stage “carbon cost” of producing energy-intensive materials such as concrete and steel, of transporting them to the site, and of other processes that require burning fossil fuels used to construct a building.

Embodied carbon has become an increasingly important concern of scientists, engineers, and architects. Driven by the urgency of global warming and a growing understanding of the significant role new construction plays in climate change, designers are becoming more conscious of the carbon cost of the materials they choose. For many, engineered wood – considered in the full picture of responsibly managed forests and whole life-cycle analysis – offers at least a partial answer.

While the concept of embodied carbon is still not widely understood by the public, it has a history in the architectural community that our program will explore. Longtime thought leaders David Lewis and Alan Organschi will discuss the role of research in both academic and professional practice in advancing ideas about low-embodied carbon materials, such as Mass Timber. After their presentations, they’ll engage in conversation with writer and architecture critic Fred A. Bernstein.

Rendering of the Telluride Center for the Arts, courtesy of LTL Architects.

David Lewis is principal of LTL Architects, founded in 1997 with twin brother Paul Lewis and Marc Tsurumaki. He is co-author of the only book on the architectural section, Manual of Section. He holds academic positions as Professor at Parsons School of Design and Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the University of Limerick, Ireland. He also served as Conference Chair of “Timber in the City 3: Opportunities for Architecture and Urbanism Conference” at Parsons School of Design.

Alan Organschi is a principal and partner at GOA, an architectural practice in New Haven, Connecticut. He continues as a senior member of the faculty at the Yale School of Architecture and directs the Yale Building Lab. He has written and lectured extensively on the carbon storage benefits of biogenic material substitution and circular economic strategies in urban building. He is a co-author of the recently published book Carbon: A Field Manual For Building Designers and the scientific paper “Buildings as a Global Carbon Sink.”

Fred A. Bernstein is a writer and architecture critic for numerous publications including the New York Times, Architectural Record, and The Architect’s Newspaper. He is the 2009 winner of the Oculus Award, given each year by the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects for excellence in architecture writing.

This program will take place IN-PERSON at SOM’s 7 World Trade Center. Space is limited to 70 attendees, so priority RSVP is given to Museum Members and Corporate Members. If you have questions, please call the Museum’s office at (212) 945-6324.

This program will also be livestreamed to the Museum’s Youtube channel. If the event is sold out or you cannot attend in-person, we invite you to join us on Youtube. You do NOT need to RSVP to join the Youtube livestream. As a reminder, all of our online programs are also recorded and archived on our website and YouTube channel.