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'Let's Test The Boundaries': Texas' Largest Mass Timber Office Building Opens In Dallas-Fort Worth

The largest mass timber office project in Texas has officially debuted in Frisco, paving the way for mainstream acceptance of a building material that could revolutionize commercial construction.

The first phase of The Offices at Southstone Yards is a 242K SF, seven-story tower at 4401 Cirrus Way, just north of State Highway 121. Use of mass timber has thus far been relegated to smaller, boutique office projects, making Crow Holdings Development’s decision to embark on a larger footprint a potential game-changer for the industry.

Crow Holding Development's Jim McCaffrey and Gensler's Dana Vickerson and Scott Armstrong were among the team members leading the project.

“This is a fantastic product, and we believed in our ability to do it without downsides,” said Jim McCaffrey, managing director in the firm’s office division. “We wanted to do a building that is on par with the nicest buildings in the market, and it’s mass timber. We don’t want anybody to have to make any sacrifices.”

The advantages of mass timber as a commercial construction material are far-reaching. Mass timber buildings have smaller carbon footprints than their concrete-and-steel counterparts, they tend to be faster to construct, and tenants are spared costly finish-outs. Companies are drawn to its visual appeal and inherent health advantages, making the material a powerful recruitment tool.

Approximately 85% of the carbon footprint in Phase 1 of the project has been reduced, embodied or captured, McCaffrey said. Crow Holdings Development is in active talks with potential tenants, many of whom are looking to either hit certain emissions targets or are simply drawn to the building’s aesthetics. 

Click through the arrows above to take a virtual tour of The Offices at Southstone Yards

“Almost every single tour, when the group walks off the elevator, at least one person but usually a few people literally speak the word, ‘Wow,’” McCaffrey said. “That just does not happen during shell and core speculative office leasing tours. It absolutely transforms your experience.”

The building’s ceilings are about 2 feet taller than the standard office ceiling height, topping out at just over 11 feet, McCaffrey said. Biophilic design elements like the inclusion of natural light, superior air filtration and advanced humidifier systems combine to create an elevated health and wellness experience. 

“Nowadays, we spend the majority of our life indoors, but there’s something innate to us as human beings where we crave the outdoors,” he said. “When you’re in an environment like this … consciously or subconsciously, you’re in nature.” 

The reception to Phase 1 has been so positive that McCaffrey’s team has decided to opt for a second mass timber office building on an adjacent parcel of land. The entire site has room for up to four office towers comprising 1.2M SF and is part of the 45-acre Southstone Yards development that will eventually include multifamily, townhomes, retail, a hotel and activated green space.

Despite its many benefits, doubts remain around the ability for mass timber to be delivered at scale, with critics pointing to limitations tied to cost, building code restrictions and a lack of federal, state and local incentives. 

But now that Crow Holdings has executed a mass timber project of this size, other developers will likely feel more comfortable taking the plunge, said Scott Armstrong, one of Gensler’s lead architects on the project. 

“Crow has been a visionary on this, really pushing out and saying, ‘Let’s test the boundaries, let’s make this happen,’” he said. “It’s been really well responded to by the tenant community, but the developer and real estate community are going to see this and say, ‘Wow, we all need to take a page from this.’”