LSW Architects Adds Mass Timber Expert as Principal

Joan McGuire
The Carbon 12 building (left) and The Canyons (right) in Northeast Portland

Ben Kaiser brings experience with modular housing and was responsible for developing the tallest wood building in the U.S.

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Vancouver’s LSW Architects announced Tuesday that it has added mass-timber architect Ben Kaiser as a principal.

Kaiser is the founding partner of Portland-based general contracting and development firm Kaiser Group + Path Architecture and has overseen multiple construction projects using mass timber. Kaiser’s regional projects include Carbon12 – an eight-story mixed-use building in Northeast Portland known that is the tallest wood building in the U.S. He also led the development of The Canyons – a 113,000-square-foot, mixed-use complex, also in Northeast Portland.

Kaiser also leads PathHouse LLC, factory with a mission of providing below-market-rate housing made of mass timber.

The Canyons Alley. Credit: Joan McGuire.

Mass timber, or laminated timber, is a sustainable building material created by combining wood fiber with an adhesive. Environmental advocates have championed the material’s lower carbon footprint in relation to logged timber. 

In September of last year, the Oregon Mass Timber Coalition received a $41.4 million EDA grant to develop and expand Oregon’s emerging mass timber industry to address the state’s housing and wildfire problems  and create higher paying  jobs. This year, Gov. Tina Kotek celebrated the use of mass timber as part of her Mass Casitas modular housing project in Portland’s Marine Terminal 2.

According to the company press release, Kaiser stepped into the role at LSW on Oct. 23.

“I feel extremely fortunate to join the well-experienced and forward-thinking team at LSW,” Kaiser said in the release. “Everyone at the firm, from the newest hires to the managing partners, are extremely talented and equally devoted to making a difference – a positive difference during these challenging times. I’m excited to join our years of experience with mass timber together with their decades of work throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

According to the release, Kaiser will “support ongoing and focused business development efforts, function as a technical mass timber resource for public and private clients, and will continue to spearhead PathHouse, an innovative mass timber solution to modular housing.”

In an email to DJC Oregon, Kaiser said the Kaiser Group will continue its operations, and he will continue to lead PathHouse LLC. LSW will now be responsible for the permitting and deployment of the modular housing units.

“We’re all excited about PathHouse, a modular mass-timber housing producer, and its potential to impact, at scale, the housing challenges in the (Pacific Northwest),” he said.

Path Architecture LLC will eventually wind down once its project pipeline is completed and Kaiser continues his role at LSW.