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Gilbane, Lake|Flato, KSS Architects, and Penn Engineering Celebrate the Topping Off of Philadelphia’s First Six-Story Mass Timber Project

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Gilbane Building Company, Lake|Flato Architects, Inc., KSS Architects, and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) School of Engineering and Applied Science celebrated the topping out of Amy Gutmann Hall, which will be the first six-story mass timber building in Philadelphia. The ceremony marked the completion of the building’s mass timber frame, constructed using 44,500 cubic feet of cross-laminated timber (CLT) floors and roof and 40,250 cubic feet of glulam beams and columns.

Designed by Lake|Flato and KSS Architects, Amy Gutmann Hall sets a new standard for eco-friendly buildings in Philadelphia. This structure represents the possibilities of mass timber construction, combining strength, durability, and environmental consciousness. Mass timber has many advantages, including sustainable sourcing, fire resistance, improved indoor air quality, and reduced construction waste.

Gilbane implemented a design-assist partnership with Nordic Structures, an innovator of mass timber construction structures, to support an extensive preconstruction period that included value analysis, schedule planning, code compliance, and the permitting process. The Canadian Boreal Forest, which is utilized by Nordic for tree harvesting, spans over 307 million hectares, and it will take approximately 6,140 acres to complete this project.

“We’re breaking new ground by building the first cross laminated timber project in Philadelphia,” said Shawn Carlin, Senior Vice President and Philadelphia Office Leader. “To be chosen by the University of Pennsylvania to build this meaningful and innovative building named after such a transformational leader, Dr. Amy Gutmann, is a proud moment for us. I am extremely thankful to Penn, our design and trade partners, and the Philadelphia Building Trades who have all put their best foot forward to get us to this significant milestone.”

Gilbane is providing construction management services for the tight, urban, infill higher education facility, constructed for Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. The design balances efficient dry lab research, office, and teaching floor plates that allow for device design and prototyping. It also accommodates responsible site development, servicing, and accommodation of future development on the adjacent eastern parcel. Amy Gutmann Hall will serve as a hub for cross-disciplinary collaborations that harness research and data across the University of Pennsylvania’s 12 schools and numerous academic centers. The multi-purpose facility will house classrooms and collaborative spaces, providing an environment for learning, research, and social interaction.

The project’s sustainable features extend beyond its construction materials. Amy Gutmann Hall incorporates energy-efficient systems, green roofs, and natural daylighting, further enhancing its environmental performance. These design elements will help the building to achieve an anticipated LEED Gold certification.

Gilbane provides a full slate of construction and facilities-related services — from pre-construction planning and integrated consulting capabilities to comprehensive construction management,  general contracting, design-build, and facility management services — for clients across various markets. Founded in 1870 and still a privately held, family-owned company, Gilbane has more than 45 office locations worldwide.

With a local office in the Navy Yard, Gilbane has worked in Philadelphia for nearly 40 years. The Philadelphia operation is actively engaged in an array of construction initiatives: mass timber construction projects; biotechnology and life sciences lab spaces; commercial office buildings and contemporary workspaces; academic and research facilities; health care infrastructure improvements; warehouses and distribution centers; and cultural, sport, and public performance venues.