Wood you believe it? Timber-topped addition to DC building underway

A rendering of the timber addition being constructed atop the 80 M Street SE office building in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. (Courtesy Maurice Harrington, Sisson Studios)
A rendering of the timber addition being constructed atop the 80 M Street SE office building in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.

Construction underway on the timber-topped addition to the office building at 80 M Street SE. (Courtesy Maurice Harrington, Sisson Studios)
Construction underway on the timber-topped addition to the office building at 80 M Street SE.

Construction underway on the timber-topped addition to the office building at 80 M Street SE. (Courtesy Maurice Harrington, Sisson Studios)
Construction underway on the timber-topped addition to the office building at 80 M Street SE.

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A rendering of the timber addition being constructed atop the 80 M Street SE office building in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. (Courtesy Maurice Harrington, Sisson Studios)
Construction underway on the timber-topped addition to the office building at 80 M Street SE. (Courtesy Maurice Harrington, Sisson Studios)
Construction underway on the timber-topped addition to the office building at 80 M Street SE. (Courtesy Maurice Harrington, Sisson Studios)

Heavy timber hasn’t been used in large-scale building construction in the District in a century, but construction is now underway on an addition to an existing office building in Capitol Riverfront using just that.

Columbia Property Trust has taken delivery of almost 1,400 tons of mass timber sourced from the Pacific Northwest and Eastern Canada and has hoisted it to the top of the 80 M Street office building in Southeast.

Major vertical construction is now underway. The timber addition will add three additional stories and 105,000 square feet to the existing eight-story, 286,000-square-foot building. The addition includes additional office space, a penthouse lounge and outdoor terrace.

It is D.C.’s first commercial office construction relying primarily on mass timber and glass.

The largest of the giant wood planks measure 32 feet long and weigh more than 6,300 pounds.

Columbia Property Trust says the glue-laminated timber is stronger than steel, and the cross-laminated timber panels provide superior acoustic, fire-protection, seismic and thermal performance.

D.C.-based architecture firm Hickock Cole, which designed the addition, says mass timber design is a low-carbon alternative to steel, concrete and masonry. Mass timber projects can be constructed faster and with less on-site labor, the firm said. The engineering firm Arup is building the addition.

The 80 M timber addition is expected to be completed in 2022.

The American Trucking Association has signed a 16-year lease for 60,000 square feet at the building — fitting, considering all the mass timber was trucked to D.C. from Washington State and Quebec.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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