Ascent, the tallest wooden building in the world

Last Friday, the first tenants began moving into Ascent, the new apartment tower at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave.

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Although the tower isn’t fully completed and a grand opening won’t be celebrated until September, co-developer New Land Enterprises held a rally in the 25-story tower on Wednesday to celebrate that the building – constructed cross-laminated timber on a concrete base – has been officially named the tallest timber construction building in the world.

This designation comes from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which certifies construction records for the Guinness Book of World Records. Ascent edged out the previous record holder, a building in Norway, by four feet.

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The ascent is 86.6 meters or 284 feet high.

“It’s proof that we as a company, we as a city, are capable of incredible, incredible accomplishments when we work together and put our hearts into it,” said New Land’s Tim Gokhman. “We literally proved it here.”

Ground was broken on the tower in August 2020 and it was completed last December.

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Wood finish on the outside.
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Designed by Korb + Associates Architects, Ascent is simply dotted with a street-level wood finish on the outside, but inside, cross-laminated timber – which you can read more about in this article – is visible in the 249 apartments.

There, the wood is exposed on the ceilings, posts and rails. Building codes limit the amount of wood that can be exposed inside the building.

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Exposed wood in an apartment.
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New Land co-developed the building with Wiechmann Enterprises. It was designed by Thornton Tomasetti and built by CD Smith and Catalyst Construction.


According to Gokhman, more than 100 of the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments have been rented.

Today, there are 84 CLT buildings completed or under construction, according to CTBUS, which noted that even though Ascent is a hybrid, it’s still the tallest wooden building of any kind.

“We really haven’t started trying to set a record,” Gokhman said. We started at 19 and then it grew… until we were 25. And then we may have enlarged the first floor a bit.

“It always seems surreal. It’s really not the most important thing for us, but I think I’ll think back to that day when we set a world record in Milwaukee…and that’s a big deal.

The building – which is the subject of the documentary film “Timber Skyscraper”, which screened at the Milwaukee Film Festival this year – was not initially permitted by building codes, but after 14 fire tests of three hours at a UW lab in Madison, as well as coordination with and inspection by the Milwaukee Fire Department, he was given the all-clear.

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Samples of some of the fire tests.
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Today, Ascent has drawn curious visitors from all over the country, as well as places as far afield as Switzerland and Taiwan, and Gokhman has been invited to Dubai to talk about it.

Ascent, which was built with the help of a Wood Innovation Grant, was New Land’s third attempt to build a tower on the site which most recently housed a single-story building housing an Edwardo pizzeria. .

Super strong cross-laminated timber – which is made by laying wood at perpendicular angles to create this strength – is a renewable resource. Using it in Ascent is equivalent to taking 2,400 cars off the road for a year, Gokhman said.

“The amount of wood in Ascent is replaced by natural growth – not replanting, natural growth – in North American forests in about 23 minutes,” he added. “So it’s a very renewable resource.”


“Ascent is a very exciting project.” said CTBUH Director of Research and Thought Leadership, Daniel Safarik.

“It helps move the conversation forward on how we build more sustainable and healthier cities, especially in the face of mass urbanization and the growing effects of climate change.”

While floors 15 and above are still under construction and work continues on the pool and sauna on the seventh floor, the apartments are complete on the lower floors. There are 14 floor plans and each is named after a type of tree: aspen, cherry walnut, etc.

Amenities include an indoor/outdoor fitness center, indoor dog agility center, pet spa, electric car charging stations, bike storage, and community space on the top floor. floor with two terraces, two entertaining kitchens, an outdoor cinema, a bar reserved for residents. , foyers, a game room, and semi-private workspaces.

We peeked at a 600-square-foot bedroom on the 13th floor with a view directly east of the lakefront (you can see it in a reel on my Instagram), and three rooms with view on the south and west on the city center on the 11th floor.

We were also able to take a look at the pool, lobby and hallways. Here’s what we saw…

Inside a three bedroom unit

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Lobby

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Elevator lobby lighting

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Corridor

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The swimming pool

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Sauna

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Open pool level window

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