CANCELLED – “Mass Timber: Beyond Instrumentality and Technology”

Large hallway with wooden ceiling and escalator descending into the floor

This event has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.


Wood is a material that has garnered many innovations over time including its original use to construct fire, providing two functions simultaneously, light and warmth. Similarly, wood has the agency to propel the social and political forward as seen in the deployment of controlling territories, crossing bodies of water, and the invention of the wheel. Additionally, no other material elicits such a Pavlonian or immediate response to warmth, beauty and aesthetics in the built environment. Fast forward several centuries to the latest cyclical innovation relating to wood—mass timber. From cross laminated timber blanks to glulam slabs, beams, and columns, topics on mass timber tend to center around sustainability and industry advancements. The aim of this symposium is move beyond default topics of instrumentality and technology in mass timber by collecting unique positions from a group of architects, engineers, developers, and manufacturers in contemporary design, while also underscoring the value of intellectualizing these topics from within academia.

This event acknowledges the recent acceleration of mass timber technology within the industry, coupled with the unprecedented challenges faced by human kind at the global scale, yet, demands new pedagogical approaches to learning and teaching design. For these reasons, we seek to combine research questions on mass timber within the context of an option studio with the format of a symposium. A public display of questions from within the studio will be combined with positions from invited professionals.

Symposium poster



Introductions by Jennifer Bonner and Hanif Kara

Keynote Provocation: Nader Tehrani
10.00-10.30 Speaker 1 – Friedrich Ludewig – ACME

10.30–11.00 Speaker 2 Yasmin Vobis/Aaron Forrest – Ultramoderne

11.00–11.30 Speaker 3 – Kirsten Haggart

11.30–12.30 **** Panel 1 Discussion****
Chaired by Jennifer Bonner with: Nader Tehrani, Yasmin Vobis & Aaron Forrest, Kirsten Haggart, and Friedrich Ludewig

12.30–1.45 Lunch Break


1.45–2.30 Keynote Provocation: Michael Ramage

2.30–3.00 Speaker 4 – Ben Kaiser –Kaiser Group & Path Architecture

3.00–3.30 Speaker 5 – Kay Hartmann – KLH

3.30–4.00 Speaker 6 – Susan Jones – atelierjones

4.00–5.00 **** Panel 2 Discussion****
Chaired by Hanif Kara with: Michael Ramage, Ben Kaiser, Susan Jones, and Kay Hartmann

5.00–6.00 Student Presentation, Q & A and Closing Remarks



Jennifer Bonner

Jennifer Bonner is Director of MALL, Associate Professor of Architecture and Director of the Master in Architecture II Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. As a recipient of the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, Emerging Voices Award (AIA Young Architects Forum), and Progressive Architecture (P/A) Award, her creative work has been published in architectural trade journals including Architect, Metropolis, Architectural Record, Azure, and Wallpaper, as well as a+t , DAMN, PLAT, Offramp, and MAS Context . She is founder and author of A Guide to the Dirty South: Atlanta, editor of Platform: Still Life, and a guest editor for ART PAPERS special issue on architecture and design of Los Angeles. In 2018, MALL completed Haus Gables, constructed of cross-laminated timber located in Atlanta, Georgia.


Hanif Kara

Professor Hanif Kara is a practicing Structural Engineer and Professor in Practice of Architectural Technology at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard. He is recognized for linking design, research, education and practice. As Design Director and co-founder of AKT II (est. 1996), his particular ‘design-led’ approach and interest in innovative form, pushing material uses, sustainable construction and complex analysis methods have allowed him to work on numerous pioneering projects at the forefront of many challenges facing the built environment. The practice has won over 350 design awards including the RIBA Stirling Award on three separate occasions. Hanif’s career extends into wider areas of design, as part of many industry and architectural committees and bodies; most notably Hanif is a member of the steering committee for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. He has also contributed to many published works.




Friedrich Ludewig, founding Director of ACME studied at the Technical University and Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin and obtained his Diploma with Honours (Arch) from the Architectural Association in 2001. Until 2007, he worked as an Associate Director at FOA prior to establishing ACME. Since its inception at ACME in 2007 Friedrich has overseen the design work across all projects in the office. ACME has grown into an international practice with over 65 architects based in offices in London, Berlin and Sydney. Over the last few years they have worked on more than 200 architecture, urban planning, and interior projects for private, corporate and public clients in 26 countries. Since the very beginning, ACME has been committed on working with timber and developing creative ways of playing with the material, from Hunsett Mill to IQL Pavilion, as well as bigger schemes like Robina Town Centre.


Kay Hartmann

Kay Hartmann, Dipl Ing Arch, ARB, RIBA, is Technical Director at the UK offices of KLH- a global leader in cross-laminated timber (CLT) technology and design- and responsible for the technical aspects of all projects whilst playing a key strategic role within the company. He graduated from the Technical University Berlin/Germany. In 2005, Kay Hartmann Architects’ Archway Early Years Centre was the first building in the UK featuring a cross-laminated timber superstructure utilizing KLH’s CLT components. In 2011, he joined KLHUK, where he has since coordinated and overseen the delivery of many high-profile projects, including the Forte Tower, the world’s tallest residential CLT superstructure in Melbourne/Australia and the William Perkin Academy/London, the UK’s largest CLT building at the time and the UK’s first Passivhaus secondary school project the Harris Academy/Sutton. Hartmann lectures at conferences and architecture schools in Europe, USA and Canada and has taught at the London Metropolitan University and the De Montfort University Leicester School of architecture.


Kirsten Haggart

Kirsten Haggart is a Senior Associate at Waugh Thisleton Architects. With over 20 years of design experience working across sectors, Kirsten’s strength lies in designing site sensitive developments through the management of stakeholders and engagement with collaborators, and successfully navigating public consultation and statutory authorities to pilot proposals through the planning process. Throughout her career Kirsten has developed projects and concepts that push boundaries and change mindsets. From the pioneering Murray Grove, which altered the global perception of how CLT should be used, to MultiPly, a carbon neutral timber pavilion for the V&A Museum which demonstrates how engineered timber structures can contribute to the circular economy, her work challenges the status quo. Most recently Kirsten has developed the visionary concept of Trenezia a zero carbon community of 1,600 homes and a cultural hub built over the lake in Bergen.


Susan Jones

atelierjones’ work entwines design, research, and advocacy to create projects of urban reclamation:  of sites, buildings, materials, waste, and ways of living. Susan Jones, FAIA, LEED BD+C, architect founded atelierjones in 2003 in Seattle, WA. All woman-owned, her small office seeks out sites and materials with inherent, but underutilized value – to harvest their embodied energy, their catalytic power for owners and communities, their beauty. atelierjones’ award-winning work includes a single family house and church using CLT, both are two of the first CLT structures completed in the US. Susan is the author of Mass Timber: Design + Research (ORO Editions) and is the AIA National Representative to the ICC Tall Timber Code Committee. Susan is an Affiliate Associate Professor of Architecture in the College of the Built Environments, University of Washington.


Ben Kaiser

Benjamin Kaiser is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and for the past 25 years has been in Portland, Oregon developing, designing and constructing a variety of commercial projects including over 200 residential condominiums. Driven by a rapidly changing climate, Ben, together with his team, has dedicated their practice, going forward, to only using mass timber products. To bring his signature project, Carbon12, to life, Ben worked with state officials to waive the restrictive codes that limit the height of wood buildings. This, together with their other timber projects, have put Kaiser+Path on the forefront of a movement to use mass timber in urban buildings. Ben served an eight year term as the Vice-Chair of the Portland Design Commission and was appointed by Governor Brown to sit on the Capitol Planning Commission. He is a member of the ULI Product Council and an advisor to the land trust-based nonprofit, Proud Ground.


Michael Ramage

Dr Michael H. Ramage leads the Centre for Natural Material Innovation at Cambridge University, and is a Reader in Architecture and Engineering (Associate Professor) in the Department of Architecture, Fellow and Vice Master of Sidney Sussex College, a Chartered Member of the Institution of Structural Engineers and a founding partner of Light Earth Designs. He studied geology and archaeology as an undergraduate, followed by architecture at MIT, and worked for Conzett Bronzini in Switzerland prior to teaching and getting a PhD at Cambridge. His research is focused on developing low-energy structural materials and systems in masonry, better housing in the developing world and large scale high rise buildings in engineered timber and bamboo through natural material innovation. He teaches, researches and designs buildings, and receives research funding from the Leverhulme Trust, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Royal Society, the British Academy, and industry.


Nader Tehrani

Nader Tehrani is a founding principal of NADAAA, a practice dedicated to the advancement of design innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and an intensive dialogue with the construction industry. He is also Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union. Tehrani’s work has been recognized with notable awards, including the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture, the United States Artists Fellowship in Architecture and Design, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture. He has also received the Harleston Parker Award and the Hobson Award. Throughout his career, Tehrani has received eighteen Progressive Architecture Awards as well as numerous national and international design awards. He served as the Frank O. Gehry International Visiting Chair in Architectural Design at the University of Toronto and the inaugural Paul Helmle Fellow at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He also recently served as the William A. Bernoudy Architect in Residence at the American Academy in Rome.


Yasmin Vobis

Ultramoderne is an award-winning architecture and design firm located in Providence, Rhode Island. Led by co-principals Aaron Forrest and Yasmin Vobis, the office is committed to creating architecture and public spaces that are at once modern, playful, and generous. The principals are driven by an experimental approach that leads to conceptually rigorous and well-executed designs. Ultramoderne regularly participates in high profile architectural competitions, with winning entries for the Chicago Lakefront Kiosk competition and the Central Falls Affordable Housing competition. The office was selected as a finalist for MoMA/PS1 Young Architects Program and for the Philadelphia Contemporary museum competition. Awards include the Architectural League Prize, an Architect Magazine R+D Award, and multiple awards from the American Institute of Architects. Vobis teaches at Brown University, having taught previously at Cooper Union, RISD, and Princeton University. She was a fellow of the American Academy in Rome in 2017.


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