Skip to content
INTRO Cleveland / Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture / Fast + Epp / photo WoodWorks

Sep 20, 2022 Ricky McLain

New construction types introduced in the 2021 International Building Code (IBC) make podiums a viable option for tall mass timber buildings. 

Podium construction—also known as pedestal or platform construction—is a common approach to mid-rise multi-family and mixed-use developments. Until now, it has typically included multiple stories of light-frame wood construction over a single- or multi-story Type I-A podium (noncombustible, such as steel and concrete), which may include retail or parking. Now, with the new construction types introduced in the 2021 International Building Code (IBC), podiums are also a viable option for tall mass timber buildings. 

To maximize the new tall wood code opportunities, specifically for site density and utilization, using a podium enables mixed-use occupancies while creating value by allowing additional stories. For example, Type IV-B construction allows 12 stories of mass timber and a total building height of 180 feet. Most 12-story projects will not fully utilize the allowable building height. However, with the use of a podium, multiple stories of Type I-A podium under 12-stories of mass timber (for example) can increase density and value, while creating more dynamic mixed-occupancy structures.  

From a code-compliance perspective, podiums don’t have to be paired with specific construction types (i.e., the building above the podium). Among other requirements, IBC Section 510.2 states that the building below the podium be of Type I-A construction, the building above the podium be no more than the allowable number of stories for its construction type (measured starting at the top of the podium), and the overall building height from grade plane not exceed the allowances for the construction type above the podium. 

WoodWorks recently published a new Expert Tip on podiums in tall timber applications, noting code options and potential sweet spots. Check out the article here.

Considering podium construction? Talk through the specifics with a wood expert. Connect with your regional director for free project support.