Skyline of Chicago (photo by Abbas Aminmansour)
Burj Dubai (image from SOM.COM)
Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings
2017 CCHRB Seminar
Thursday, June 8, 2017 8:00 AM to 12:45 PM
The Heavy Timber High Rise:
Building Tall with Wood in the 21st Century
Harris Bank Auditorium
3rd Floor, Harris Bank Building
115 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois
Who Should Attend:  
Anyone involved in the economic planning, design, construction and operation of high rise structures and interested in the current status of use of wood and engineered wood products in these type of structures. This includes facilities managers, developers, building owners, architects, interior designers, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors.
Registration Fee (Includes continental breakfast and coffee break​)*:
        $150.00     Members of CCHRB or of a co-sponsoring organization
        $175.00     Non-members
        $50.00       Students [Student identification will be required at check-in].

* Large Firm Discounts of 5 tickets for the price of 4 are available.  To receive the discount, you           must submit the Mail-in Registration Form (WordPDF).  Discounted fee is payable only by               check (see below).

Online Registration: Please visit our CCHRB Store page to register online.  If you are signing up for     someone else, please be sure to include the registrant's name and affiliation in the comment area.   Please be sure to select the correct option.

Mail-in registrations (WordPDF) - - individual or large firm discount registrations - - as well as             payments (checks only please) must be postmarked no later than June 1, 2017 and mailed to the     following address:

     Michael Wysockey, CCHRB Treasurer
     c/o Thatcher Foundations, Inc. 7100 Industrial Highway
     Gary, IN 46406
For additional information please contact:
    Mr. Matthew Kuhl, AIA, matthew.kuhl@perkinswill.com, (312) 755-4523
Continuing Education: 
Four hours of HSW continuing education credits are available for members of AIA. A certificate for 4 hours of continuing education will be provided upon request for others. A handout will be available at the seminar site with reporting directions.
Presentations and Speakers:
    High Rise Timber – Technology and Trends
    Benton Johnson; Associate, SOM, Chicago

    Tall Wood Buildings: Products, Design Process and a Case Study
    Bernhard Gafner; Partner; ACC Structural Engineers, Vancouver, British Columbia,

    Opportunities, Benefits and Challenges of Building Taller Wood Buildings
    Jeff Morrow; Program Manager, LendLease Construction, Nashville, TN

    William R. Tobin III; Master Superintendent, Vice President, LendLease,
    Nashville, TN.

    Fire Safety Codes and the Mass Timber High Rise
    Carl Baldassarra, Principal, Wiss, Janney, Elstner; Chicago, IL.,

    Amanda Kimball, Research Project Manager, NFPA Fire Protection Research               Foundation, Quincy, MA

    River Beech Tower
    Todd Snapp; Partner, Perkins + Will, Chicago, IL.

    Round Table Discussion
    A panel discussion and Q&A session of all presenters moderated by Dick Fencl
Program Schedule:

    7:15 AM: Commence Registration – Continental Breakfast Provided
    Note: Building security requires photo ID for entry.  
    Allow  time for going through building security

    8:00 AM: Welcome – Abbas Aminmansour, CCHRB Chair, Matthew Kuhl,
                CCHRB Seminar Task Force

    8:10 AM: Opening Speaker - “High Rise Timber – Technology and
                Trends“, – Benton Johnson, SOM

    8:30 AM: Presentation 1- “Tall Wood Buildings: Products, Design Process and a Case Study” –                 Bernhard Gafner, ACC Engineers

    9:15 AM: Presentation 2- “Opportunities, Benefits and Challenges of Building Taller Wood                        Buildings”, ‐ Jeff Morrow and Bill Tobin,

    10:00 AM: Coffee Break

    10:30 AM: Presentation 3- “Fire Safety Codes and the Mass Timber High Rise”  – Carl                              Baldassarra and Amanda Kimball

    11:15 PM: Presentation 4- “River Beech Tower”–Todd Snapp, Perkins + Will

    12:00 PM: Round Table Discussion and Q+A

    12:45 PM: Conclusion
Openning Presentation: 
High-Rise Timber – Technology and Trends

By Mr. Benton Johnson, Associate Director, Project Engineer –Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP

Mass-timber technologies such as Cross-laminated timber (CLT) and specialized connection systems are opening the door for sustainable wood-based structures like never before. The strength and fire resistance characteristics of mass-timber technologies are now pushing the bounds of the building code with many recently
completed and proposed high-rise mass-timber buildings. This presentation will review mass-timber technologies available today and how they are being applied to high-rise building projects. The talk will also include recent developments in timberconcrete composite systems such as the successful testing program by SOM at Oregon State University.

Benton Johnson is a Senior Engineer for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP. He has been with the firm for 10 years and has worked on numerous projects ranging from super-tall buildings to single family houses, as well as innovative research projects. He joined SOM after completing his M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of
Minnesota. His work has included super-tall buildings, mixed-use developments, office buildings, and health care facilities. His work also includes innovative research projects such as the Timber Tower Research Project which recently completed a successful testing program at Oregon State University. His other research work includes AMIE 1.0, a 3D printed demonstration building developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory with design and engineering support from SOM. As a Senior Engineer, Benton works with project structural engineers to develop the entire structural design for individual projects or groups of projects. In coordination with the architectural and building services teams, he incorporates the structural engineering design concepts within project requirements. His responsibilities also include overseeing the preparation of the complete structural engineering documents and reviewing them for compliance with the approved program.
Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings
First Presentation:

Tall Wood Buildings: Products, Design Process and a Case Study
By Bernhard Gafner, Partner, ACC Structural Engineers

This presentation will give an overview of the various structural wood products and connections systems available for the design and construction of tall wood buildings. Further, the presentation will provide an overview of the structural design approach used for the 18 story tall wood student residence at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, touching upon the procurement and construction process, codes and standards and special considerations to be considered such as prefabrication, column shortening and shrinkage, constructability, tolerances and building monitoring.

A leader in mass timber engineering, Bernhard Gafner is on the forefront of introducing innovative products such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Nail Laminated Timber (NLT) to the North American market. This includes associated connection concepts such as self-tapping screws, from-fitting connection and proprietary systems using adhesive and steel components. Bernhard offers a unique skill set in the field of structural engineering. Prior to graduating with a degree in timber engineering from the University of Applied Science in Biel, Switzerland, he gained hands-on experience as a licensed carpenter. Bernhard has a sound knowledge of building physics and
sustainable design concepts also completed the Passive House Design and Construction Course, offered through the Canadian Passive House Institute. This enables him to proactively provide input and solutions for sustainable design in all stages of the design process. With over a decade of international experience in Canada, Germany and Switzerland, Bernhard has been involved in a wide range of projects. Though Bernhard's expertise lies in timber engineering, he is accomplished in all major building materials including concrete, steel, and masonry. Bernhard is also a subcommittee member of CSA O86 - Engineering Design in Wood Bernhard’s highly recognizable portfolio includes schools, university buildings, civic building, sports stadiums, art projects, and a diverse range of residential buildings throughout Canada, USA and Europe.

Second Presentation: 
Opportunities, Benefits and Challenges of Building Taller Wood Buildings

By Mr. Jeff Morrow
Program Manager, LendLease

Mr. William R. Tobin III
Vice President, Timber & Innovations Group, LendLease

Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a material building technology that originated in Europe 20 years ago and has recently started making its way to North America. Also described as ‘plywood on steroids,’ where instead of 1/8” veneered layers of wood glued together, it uses layers that are 1” thick and engineered into massive slabs of timber for walls, floors and roofs. A renewable and sustainable material, CLT has a lower carbon footprint than steel and concrete and can be used in 1 to 12 story applications. CLT is formally recognized by the 2015 IBC. It is a disruptive material technology that can change how a building is designed and built. LendLease is recognized as a global leader in CLT having built 6 CLT projects across the US, Australia and United Kingdom. This session will primarily focus on the successful implementation of CLT at a recently completed 4 story hotel at Redstone Arsenal, AL. It will also discuss the challenges, opportunities and benefits incorporating CLT into taller wood buildings for the US Market. Additional discussion will also include how to capture the lessons learned from our recently completed tall wood buildings in Australia.

Jeff Morrow is a Program Manager for Lend Lease specializing in construction. Prior to leading the construction of new Lend Lease hotels for the Privatization of Army Lodging (PAL) program, he was Senior Project Engineer at Fort Campbell, KY, where he pioneered new approaches to energy and resource conservation in Lend Lease’s groundbreaking Zero Energy Homes project. This project provided a creative and viable strategy for achieving real change in the environmental impact of Lend Lease buildings. 

Jeff earned a B.S. and M.S. in Building Construction Management from Purdue University. In 2013, he was recognized by Professional Builder Magazine's "40 Under 40" awards.

Bill Tobin has over 35 years of experience in the construction industry and 10 years of experience as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army and Reserves. His qualifications include 27 years of experience at the operations and management level for commercial/residential construction, healthcare, historic restoration, commercial, and residential rehabilitation projects. He is well versed in all mediums of framing construction including steel, reinforced concrete, metal studs, wood stick frame and mass timber. He joined Lendlease in August 1990, as an assistant superintendent and held varying positions of increasing responsibilities as Superintendent, Master Superintendent and Operations Manager.  

He has experience building in all climates – from the Alaskan arctic to the desert southwest, the humid southeast to New England winters and all areas in between. As Operations Director, Bill is leading the Timber & Innovations Group as it continues to break barriers by building taller timber buildings.

Third Presentation:
Fire Safety Codes and the Mass Timber High Rise

​By Mr. Carl Baldassarra, P.E., FSFPE
Principal, Wiss, Janney Elstner and Associates

Ms. Amanda Kimball, P.E.
Project Manager, NFPA Research Foundation

​In this presentation, Carl and Amanda will provide an update on the major fire safety issues and current work of the NFPA Research Foundation, and the ICC Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings which is in the process of developing a proposal for the 2021 edition of the IBC with detailed requirements allowing taller “mass timber” buildings, based upon a study of technical literature and fire tests. This insight into the work of the committee promises to be very informative for design professionals, construction industry professionals and governmental authorities.

Carl Baldassarra is a Principal at Wiss, Janney Elstner and Associates, consulting engineers, in Northbrook, Illinois. Founded more than sixty years ago, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates is an employee owned, interdisciplinary firm with more than twenty-five offices across the United States and the UAE.  Supported by unparalleled laboratory and field testing capabilities, WJE’s team of engineers, architects, and materials scientists brings an enthusiasm for problem solving and a hands-on technical approach to virtually every construction material, structural system, and
architectural component.  Mr. Baldassarra leads the firm’s fire protection practice group. He has a BS degree in fire protection engineering, a Master’s degree in business, and is a licensed engineer in several states. Mr. Baldassarra leads project teams involving fire protection/life safety analysis, code consultation, fire protection system design, loss investigation, and litigation support. He is also very active in a number of ICC and NFPA codes and standards-making technical committees. He was chair of the International Code Council’s Code Technology Committee, the committee responsible for reviewing the technical literature and proposing many of the major changes which have been adopted into the IBC over the last ten years. Prior to joining WJE, Mr. Baldassarra was Executive Vice President at RJA and President of Schirmer Engineering Corporation. A 40-year veteran of the fire protection engineering profession, he is well-versed in systems design, code compliance, performance-based design, fire investigation and project management. Carl has also been active in the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, the international organization representing practicing fire protection engineers globally, serving on its Board of Directors and as its President in 2014. Closer to home, Carl
served as Vice Chair on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Committee on High-Rise Buildings 2012-2014. Most notably for this presentation, he is a member of the NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation Advisory Committee for Tall Wood Buildings, and a member of the ICC’s Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings.

​After an eight year career at Arup, Amanda Kimball joined the NFPA Research Foundation as a project manager in 2011. Amanda had varied project experience with Arup, most recently working as a project manager/senior fire engineer, and as a leader of their Evacuation and Human Behavior Americas group. She also has extensive experience with CFD fire and smoke models as well as probabilistic fire modeling for structure risk and evacuation.
Amanda received her Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and a Master of Science degree in fire protection engineering from WPI. She is also a registered professional engineer in the State of Massachusetts and a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator.
Fourth Presentation:
River Beech Tower

By Mr. Todd Snapp, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C
Design Principal, Perkins + Will

River Beech Tower is a conceptual research study for an 80-story timber residential tower situated along the South Branch of the Chicago River. Designed by global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, in collaboration with engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti and the University of Cambridge, River Beech Tower would be the largest all-timber construction building, if built.  In its current stage, using a real-life set of constraints to inform the research, the River Beech Tower study is sited on the Riverline residential development designed by Perkins+Will, but it is not a planned component of the Riverline development. 

Todd Snapp fields challenges through a process that starts with no preconceptions. Beginning with a blank slate, Todd builds understandings of culture, history, function, and use to assemble ideas that grow into innovative solutions. Todd is passionately invested in the iterative processes of design and collaboration to create a harmonic framework that leads to innovative design solutions. Earning a Bachelor of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and specializing in areas ranging from mixed use master planning of high-rise residential and corporate office developments to cultural and higher education facilities, Todd brings versatile expertise and dynamic knowledge as an emerging practice leader to propel the Perkins+Will team forward. As a testament to his place in the design industry, Todd was recently selected as one of Fifty Under Fifty: Innovators of the 21st Century, a monograph by Images Publishing released in 2015.

Panel Discussion:

Mr. Richard E. Fencl - Moderator
Technical Director, Gensler

Mr. Bernhard Gafner – Panelist
ACC Structural Engineers

Mr. William R. Tobin III - Panelist

Mr. Jeff Morrow - Panelist

Eric Taylor - Panelist
Zeller Development Corporation

Mr. Carl Baldassarra, P.E. - Panelist
Wiss, Janney Elstner and Associates

Ms. Amanda Kimball, P.E. - Panelist
NFPA Research Foundation

Mr. Todd Snapp, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C - Panelist
Perkins + Will

Dick Fencl has 43 years of professional practice involving local, regional, national and international projects, Mr. Fencl’s focus has been on the technical development and construct-ability of building systems, including selection of materials and methodology; specification development; product and system research; general oversight of construction; facade development and testing and hands on troubleshooting / forensics. Mr. Fencl has been Chairman of AIA Chicago’s Technical Committee; Chairman of the Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings; Guest Lecturer at the University of Illinois (Urbana and Chicago) and Illinois Institute of Technology; and a contributing editor for the Glass Association of North America and the Precast Prestress Concrete Institute. Fencl has been a guest speaker to both the AIA and ASHRAE National Conventions and guest critic to the AISC. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois in Urbana where he received a Bachelor of Architecture (Architectural Engineering Emphasis) in 1972. Fencl recently retired from the global architectural firm of Gensler where he served as a Principal and Firmwide Technical Leader, responsible for the day to day technical direction of the Chicago office’s work and as a mentor and resource to the entire Gensler network. Today, Fencl continues to consult to the firm as well as mentor to upcoming leadership.

  • AEI: Architectural Engineering Institute
  • AGC: Associated General Contractors/The Builders Association
  • AIA: Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects
  • AWC: American Wood Council
  • CTBUH: Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
  • SEAOI: Structural Engineers Association of Illinois
  • SFPE: Chicago Chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers
  • UL LLC: Underwriters Laboratory Fire Council
  • USGBC: United States Green Building Council