A Digital Design-Delivery System for the Large-scale Deployment of Mass Timber Building Technologies
Award last edited on: 1/14/2022

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
John Klein

Company Information

Generate LLC

4 Longfellow Place Unit 1603
Boston, MA 02114
   (609) 213-8182
Location: Single
Congr. District: 08
County: Suffolk

Phase I

Contract Number: 1938111
Start Date: 10/15/2019    Completed: 9/30/2020
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to democratize mass timber systems, rendering them accessible across the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. Buildings account for 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions, indicating an urgent need for energy-intelligent building prototypes. Mass timber buildings require less energy for production than competitive technologies and were approved in 2019 by the International Building Code for structures of up to 18 stories in the US. Yet, they remain inaccessible as a technology, in part because developers, architects and manufacturers remain unfamiliar with mass timber and its benefits. This proposal seeks to unlock a latent market of development potential on sites to which mass timber offers unique advantages. Because our technology integrates adaptable-to-site building solutions into the industry's supply chain, it is designed to improve adoption by reducing risks, barriers, and costs usually associated with innovative technologies. By giving designers, engineers, and builders access to cutting-edge mass timber building systems, our proposal aims to encourage the use of a sustainable and profitable technology for the rapid urbanization of North American cities. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will focus on developing adaptable mass timber building solutions that are replicable and commercializable. This will be achieved by designing a variety of rigorously tested and cost-effective building solutions in mass timber and developing a generative design system that can generate and deploy optimal building proposals using these pre-designed building solutions. The first component of our technology comprises the development of pre-approved structural building solutions across a range of building scales (3-18 stories) and mass-timber technologies, including novel hybrid structural solutions developed with support from manufacturers and engineers. The second component the generative system will handle different development scenarios from large urban blocks to small urban infill sites. The tool will generate a wide variety of potential compliant options, analyze and test these for user-specified performance metrics, and sort among them to find a best-case building proposal. The tool will incorporate the structural solutions developed in the first component of the work and deploy them within their constraints to test real-world building solutions against the constraints of each development project. The tool will also seamlessly integrate with existing BIM (Building Information Modeling) project-delivery platforms for easy interoperability. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Phase II

Contract Number: 2111626
Start Date: 7/1/2021    Completed: 6/30/2023
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
The broader impact of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is to accelerate the digitization of the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) industry, while democratizing the use of sustainable building materials. The technology is a first-of-its-kind Computer Aided Design for Manufacturing (CADfM) software. It enables architects to design for code compliance, cost management, and environmental sustainability. The proposed software will enable greater flexibility, lower cost, greater project speed, wider product selection, and enhanced human creativity in design. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will enable architectural design-for-manufacturing. Current design processes lack the pre-rationalization of manufacturing. To deliver sustainable, economically efficient and high-density buildings, architects need tools to quickly test design options in a data-rich space. Manufacturers need their products digitally integrated into architects’ early designs, to prevent value-engineering and rework. This software is uniquely built on a game engine, and hosts a geometry kernel with smart building elements (façade, corridor, spaces, etc.) aware of their type, purpose and adjacencies, permitting data communication between assemblies and integration with data libraries for rapid evaluation of potential design changes and estimation of associated costs and effects. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.