Photos courtesy of Chesapeake Contracting Group.

After more than a year of planning and innumerable hours tracking shipments, the structure of Greater Baltimore’s first mass timber commercial building is up and leasing swiftly.

Completing the structure of 40TEN – a Class A, four-story office building by 28 Walker in the Collective at Canton – required some added and earlier planning than the construction of a conventional building.

“We did a lot of upfront prep to understand how the system works,” said Dave Ginsberg, Vice President of Chesapeake Contracting Group.

28 Walker released the project’s wood purchases – specifically, the glulams for the building’s columns and beams and the dowl-laminated timber (DLT) for the floor and roof plates – early to facilitate the design and construction team’s planning. Mechanical and electrical contractors were also brought on board early.

“By the time we had our MEP subs under contract, we had approved timber shop drawings that we all could work with,” Ginsberg said. Because mass timber systems are fully prefabricated, “we did a lot of BIM and MEP coordination to ensure all the core drilling through glulams or DLT was done in the manufacturer’s shop. There are limitations to where you can make cuts and they reengineer the wood to reinforce around those cuts. We had to make sure all the sprinkler piping, plumbing risers, duct shafts and other openings were precut so there would be no delays in prefabrication.”

While that planning and fabrication went smoothly, widespread delays in the supply chain due to the war in Europe slowed the shipment of the materials from Europe to Baltimore.

“We were tracking cargo ships on a marine tracking website to better gauge the timing of when materials would arrive onsite to help with our day-to-day project scheduling,” Ginsberg said. “However once materials arrived onsite, our timber trade partner Structurecraft proceeded swiftly and smoothly with construction.”

The timber system is also helping 28 Walker “achieve our goal of delivering something unique and responsive to trends in office buildings,” Slosson said. “When we started this project, we looked at mass timber as a way to give people a unique space that is warm and inviting. For employers, this building can be a statement about your company and a tool for talent attraction – an attractive space that makes people excited to come to work every day even though they have an option of working from home.”

Other elements add to the attractiveness of 40TEN, including its large, floor-to-ceiling windows, electrochromic smart glazing, ground-floor daycare and the array of amenities and housing that surrounds the building in the mixed-use Collective at Canton development.

Choosing mass timber for 40TEN did increase construction costs “but what we have seen is this product commands top-of-market rent which covers the increased cost,” Slosson said.

28 Walker has already leased 2.5 floors of 40TEN and is currently talking with other prospective tenants.

“We believe long-term in this market. The office doesn’t go away as a result of Covid or work-from-home,” Slosson said. “We are big believers that as companies look at their space needs going forward, there will be a flight to quality and mass timber will be part of that equation. Companies will want space that is different from the run-of-the-mill office building and that entices people to come to work.”