Complementary Systems: Innovative Design Strategies for Steel-Timber Hybrid Buildings

How steel-timber hybrid construction often offers the best of both worlds, combining the strength, performance, and sustainability of two powerhouse materials
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Webinar On-Demand
Sponsored by Think Wood
Presented by Thomas Robinson, Dan Safarik, and Adam Jongeward

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe usage and specification considerations for wood and steel in a range of construction typologies, including residential and commercial low-rise and tall structures.
  2. Examine what environmental advantages wood and steel hybrid systems bring to buildings.
  3. Explore various aspects of building design such as fire-resistance ratings, acoustic separation, and carbon reduction that are unique to hybrid steel-timber structures.
  4. Identify the evaluation criteria and ultimate reasons, such as sustainability or cost-efficiencies, for choosing the structural system for each of the highlighted projects, and strategies that ensure wood and steel components work well together.


AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour
MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA.
This course can be self-reported to the NSAA
NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
OAA 1 Learning Hour
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.
This course is approved as a Structured Course
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
Approved for structured learning
Approved for Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA
Course may qualify for Learning Hours with NWTAA
Course eligible for OAA Learning Hours
This course is approved as a core course
This course can be self-reported for Learning Units to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia

Design experts universally recognize the benefits of building with wood for its sustainability attributes, seismic performance, natural warmth, and in many cases—especially with mass timber—speed of construction. Depending on local codes and regulations, performance requirements, or architectural vision, however, some projects call for a hybrid structural solution, combining light frame and mass timber with steel structural elements. This webinar will explore a selection of innovative projects in a range of applications where hybrid steel and wood systems maximize the advantageous attributes of each material. Topics to be covered include viability for high-rise and modular construction, as well as sustainability and carbon analyses. Our expert panel will explore the development, design, construction, and operation of steel-timber hybrid buildings utilizing light frame or mass timber configurations, highlighting ways in which combined technologies may support increased height and advance environmental, performance, occupant comfort, and cost-efficiency goals.

LEVER Architecture’s Thomas Robinson will present 843 N Spring Street, a new kind of home for the next generation of tech innovators and creative leaders of Los Angeles. It raises the bar on biophilic and low carbon office design, introducing mass timber to the region on a bold new scale. It provides 145,000 sf of beautiful, flexible office and retail space distinguished by a showcase of exposed Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels.

Daniel Safarik, the Director, Research and Thought Leadership at CTBUH, will present on the trend toward a new high-rise typology of steel-timber hybrid buildings. A growing number of mass-timber high-rise projects around the world use steel in a significant structural capacity. An overview will be provided, including statistics on market share, construction updates, and proposals.

Finally, Adam Jongeward from DCI Engineers will highlight his knowledge of modern mass timber design and high-rise steel modular projects, focusing on the only way Mass Timber buildings can pencil in commercial construction is to take advantage of the speed. Hybridizing mass timber and steel needs to be done in a way that aligns to that speed. Whether it’s lateral system selection, aiding in prefabrication, or limiting fire rating, creative uses for steel enhance the benefits of mass timber.

The presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion focused on key aspects of steel-timber hybrid design and construction.

850 Spring Street

Photo courtesy of Lever Architecture

Thomas R

Thomas Robinson is the Founder of LEVER Architecture, a US-based design practice with offices in Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California. His firm is widely recognized for material innovation and for pioneering work with Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). Thomas’ projects encompass first-of-their-kind timber buildings for clients such as The Nature Conservancy and Adidas and include more than $1M in research to develop and test wood building assemblies. He has lectured on mass timber throughout the US, Europe, and South America, and served as the United States Department of Agriculture Wood Innovation Grant Visiting Professor at the University of Arkansas. LEVER was recently recognized by Fast Company as one of the world’s most innovative companies; and in 2017, was named to Architectural Record’s Design Vanguard and to the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices.

Daniel S

Daniel Safarik is Director, Research and Thought Leadership at CTBUH. His responsibilities include providing high-level directional oversight for the Council’s research functions, data studies, topical publications, and dedicated tall building database. Additional responsibilities include the development of content for CTBUH publications, particularly the CTBUH Journal. Safarik interfaces directly with the CTBUH President to identify topics and areas in need of detailed exploration and research, then engages analysts, writing staff, and production/digital team members to execute projects using clear operational workflows.

Safarik has co-authored or co-edited numerous of the Council’s recent technical publications. He served as CTBUH’s Editor from 2013 to 2021, and as the Director of the China Office of CTBUH at Tongji University, Shanghai, from 2015 to 2017, spearheading the Council’s efforts to expand influence and membership in China. Trained as an architect and a journalist, Safarik was the director of marketing for Brooks + Scarpa Architects (formerly Pugh + Scarpa Architects) from 2008 to 2011. Safarik reported on technology or edited for business publications for 16 years, including The Wall Street Journal, The Economist Group, Fast Company, Advanced Trading, Individual Investor, and others. Safarik has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon.


Adam Jongeward, PE, SE, Associate Principal has been a member of the DCI family for over a decade, climbing the ranks from Intern to Senior Project Manager and now Associate Principal. Driven by a passion for structural behavior and modeling, Adam engineers by interpreting the system - be it computer program input and output or jurisdictional standards. He believes successful engineering begins with mastering the framework. He believes that first-principles are the key to all successful engineering projects, no matter how simple or how complex.

Adam is a graduate of the University of Illinois: Urban Champaign and earned his Master's in Structural Engineering from Stanford University. Throughout his career with DCI, he's taken on several higher education projects, including spearheading the primary gravity and lateral design of the Cal State San Marcos Student Union, as well as managing the design of the University of Oregon Recreational Facility. Throughout his career with DCI, he has create a niche for himself in “odd projects”. Starting with seismic upgrades of historic structures, he dealt with 100-year-old timber beams and seismic behavior of nontraditional lateral systems. This formed the basis for his specialties in modern mass timber design and high-rise steel modular project.


Think Wood Think Wood provides commercial, multifamily and single-family home design and build resources to architects, developers, and contractors, including education, research, design tools, and innovative project profiles.


Originally published in November 2022