What does it take to pioneer a first-of-its-kind Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building structure in one the country’s largest and hottest metropolitan areas? The right dreamers and doers to get the job done, together.
Within its first year of its delivery, The Beam on Farmer has won ten awards with local and national publications – further exemplifying the quality outcome that comes when great minds come together. In the last month, the project added two highly regarded awards to its roster. Engineering News-Record’s Southwest region – overseeing Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico – selected The Beam on Farmer as the award winner in three categories.
- Best Project: Interior/Tenant Improvement
- Best Project: Office/Retail/Mixed-Use
- Excellence in Sustainability
Delivered in September 2022, The Beam on Farmer stands as a testament not only to innovation but also to the power of effective teamwork and collaboration. Throughout its conception and realization, key partnerships with RSP Architects and Holzpack — an award-winning national architecture firm and Austrian/German mass timber supplier — played pivotal roles in bringing this concept into a tangible reality. Beyond its physical structure, this project's legacy resonates as a guiding precedent for forthcoming sustainable developments, standing as a shining example of the remarkable achievements that unfold through cohesive teamwork and an unwavering commitment to continuous innovation.
The journey to bring The Beam on Farmer to life was not without its challenges, as is often the case with "first-of-its-kind" developments. While mass timber offers a transformational approach to building, code requirements and city entitlements can create added challenges to the traditional process.
Mortenson partnered with RSP Architects in the delivery and design of The Beam on Farmer. Working under a “one team” approach, the team knew how critical education would be as they introduced and familiarized stakeholders with this new construction methods. The design team, led by associate principal Mike Duffy, proactively engaged the right parties during the code review process. This involved early engagement with the City of Tempe to address their excitement about the project. However, given the innovative nature of the building, the City's review process involved a higher level of scrutiny. By ensuring early involvement and education, the project team successfully navigated potential delays and contributed to a more streamlined process for future CLT structures in Tempe.
A critical turning point in the project’s success was the early involvement of Holzpack, the project’s mass timber supplier. With supply chain and procurement posing challenges for many in the post-2020 world, this strategic decision facilitated seamless communication and coordination throughout the CLT procurement process. Tracking the CLT's 2,000-mile journey required regular interactions with port personnel in German and consistent communication with the shipping vendor in French. Key personnel from the Mortenson construction team utilized their language skills to build rapport and facilitate effective communication with the shipping and logistics teams.
Beyond the structure of The Beam, the project team’s attention to detail and high craftsmanship is reflected in the Mortenson Office TI on the first floor of the building. The same RSP + Mortenson team joined together to deliver the office’s design and construction, carrying the same ethos of sustainability, unified vision, and project pride through to the very end. This can be seen through the creative use of the extraneous wood packing materials used in transporting the CLT across the globe. Since CLT construction produces little to no timber waster, both Mortenson and RSP chose to use this excess CLT packing material to create beacons of pride within their respective offices. RSP chose to design and build a workspace table from the CLT, while Mortenson – with partnership from RSP’s interior design team – used a CLT slab to create an art-like backdrop of their core company values for their main “Grand Canyon” conference room.
Mortenson and RSP have been intentional to not keep these lessons learned behind closed doors. With a drive to advance the entire A/E/C industry, the team has presented best practices to local chapters of organizations such as DBIA and higher education classes at The University of Arizona and Arizona State University.
The numerous awards presented to The Beam on Farmer are a testament to its groundbreaking design and impact:
- TI Project of the Year Award from the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP)
- Sustainable Project of the Year Award from NAIOP
- Environmental Impact Award from Downtown Tempe Authority
- Design Award of Merit for Single Space from the International Interior Design Association (IIDA)
- Award of Merit: RSP – Mortenson Arizona Office from IIDA
- Project to Know Judges Award (2023) from AZ Big Media / PTK Magazine
- Project to Know - New to Market Award (2022) from AZ Big Media / PTK Magazine
- Best Project: Interior/Tenant Improvement from Engineering News Record Southwest (ENR Southwest)
- Best Project: Office/Retail/Mixed-Use from ENR Southwest
- Excellence in Sustainability from ENR Southwest
- [Finalist] Environmental Excellence Award from Arizona Forward Association, Governor’s Award
- [Finalist] Environmental Excellence Award from Arizona Forward Association, Buildings and Structures Award