News / 10.3.16

Epstein’s Architectural Intern Eric Runnfeldt in Chicago Architect Magazine

Co-Writes Article Detailing IIT Mass Timber Structural System Studio

In the September/October edition of Chicago Architect Magazine, the publication of the AIA Chicago, Epstein's architectural intern, Eric Runnfeldt is featured in a co-written article about his experience in Instructor Andy Tinucci, AIA's, Illinois Institute of Technology studio which was focused on the development of a new structural system of mass timber. In the piece, Eric and his co-author, Dennis Khambai, detail how, due to the reemergence of wood as a modern construction type, the parameters of a mass timber structural system can influence the assemblage arrangement for high-rise structures.

Here's a link to the on-line version of the Chicago Architect article -

The class experience that Eric and Dennis wrote about began by drawing details and preforming materials testing on wood. The picture you see below shows the results after Eric and Dennis fire-tested some timber columns. You can clearly see the difference in the "char layer" from the one to two hour samples (left to right). And in Eric and Dennis' design of all structural members had this thickness of the "char layer" added on top of their structural requirements to build in a strong fire rating.

The mass timber building Eric and Dennis designed was also set on a concrete podium to separate the wood from the ground level. And here is a diagram to explain how the timber panel structure was going to work somewhat in a similar way to precast concrete.

The building was also clad with a wood panel rain screen system as seen in the sectional detail drawing. This forms a sacrificial layer to protect the structure underneath while still highlight the wood construction of the building.

Lastly, Eric and Dennis' project was located at the corner of State and Elm in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast. The intent is for the building façade to reflect the context of the neighborhood. So there is a very vibrant face on along State Street, but a much more subdued face along Elm which is primarily residential.

Congratulations Eric and Dennis on a very well written and detailed article as well as a very impressive design!