Until about your grandparents’ childhood—or maybe your great-grandparents'—the world was made of wood. Everything from weapons and wheels, barrels and houses, tools for cooking and industry, was at least in part derived from materials taken from the bodies of trees. People were born in oak beds and rocked in poplar cradles and killed by walnut-stock rifles and buried in pine coffins.
Now a growing industry wants to bring back the golden age of wood starting with skyscrapers. “Look at this,” Antti Asikainen, an austere, affable Finnish forestry professor, says admiringly, pointing to a rectangular hole cut in the sheetrock of a 12-story apartment building, exposing the skeleton below.
The frame inside is made of mass timber, a high-density wood product that