“With a pioneering spirit in engineering, we inspire our partners and customers for a sustainable future” is WIEHAG’s mission statement. The specialist for sophisticated architectural buildings made of wood is now continuing its successful path in the USA. Always on board: professional risk management.

The customer and event center Paneum of the Backaldrin company, the imposing dome-roofed green roof of the Scottish whisky distillery Macallan, and the fabulously beautiful Hans Christian Andersen Experience Museum in Odense, Denmark. What do they all have in common?

They are all pioneer timber buildings from the Innviertel-based timber construction specialist WIEHAG. The passion for wood has driven Erich Wiesner, the owner of the WIEHAG Group, and his family business for five generations. Together with internationally renowned architects, WIEHAG skillfully harmonizes form and function, and constantly redefines the limits of what is possible.

As the next milestone in the company’s history, the timber construction specialist is now venturing across the pond and playing a major role in the construction of an 88-meter-high timber hybrid skyscraper in the US city of Milwaukee.

US record-breaking building with Austrian participation

At nearly 90 meters tall, the “Ascent Milwaukee” apartment tower designed by Korb + Associates Architects will be the tallest wood-hybrid structure in the world. Jason Korb, managing director of Korb + Associates enthuses, “We are creating something extraordinary with the city of Milwaukee ─ a world-class residential project.”

The details of the project are as follows: The lower garage floors and the elevator shafts will be made of concrete. The main part of the building, however, is supported by the wooden structure. The entire supporting structure of the apartments, i.e. the vertical supports and the horizontal beams, will be made of glulam. WIEHAG supplies this wooden skeleton including all connecting elements.

The main challenges are the wood strength, which has to be two classes higher than in usual engineered wood structures, as well as ensuring a sufficient number of high-strength lamellas. Projects like these “rely” on professional project management. For the construction of the tower, ─ in addition to a sufficiently long lead time and excellent cooperation with the sawmill ─ the supply chain is also of great importance.

Quality from the Innviertel

More than 6.000 m³ of sawn timber, and only the very best boards, are used in Milwaukee for the required volume of 2.300 m³ of finished glulam. 1.150 columns and 1.320 beams will be shipped to Milwaukee in 65 sea containers.

The first components from WIEHAG will arrive on the site in April 2021, where one floor each will then be raised in weekly cycles. Ascent is expected to rise a total of 25 floors after its planned completion in 2022. This means that the residential tower in Milwaukee could replace Mjøstårnet, an 18-story hotel in Brumunddal, Norway, as the tallest wooden building in the world.

Where there is planning, risk management also plays a major role

Milwaukee is currently not the only international construction project of WIEHAG. At the same time, the largest timber construction in Asia is being built for the Technical University in Singapore, as well as a sports complex for the renowned Eton College in England, a huge shopping center for Abu Dhabi and a retail project on Tenerife. “Even as a technology leader with flexible capacity, this makes us sweat a bit” says Johannes Rebhahn, responsible for international business at WIEHAG.

So, it’s no surprise that for Johannes Rebhahn and Thomas Biringer, the responsible managing directors, project-related risk management plays a major role. The complexity of such projects requires a systematic approach to the entire process, from the bidding phase through the execution steps to project completion. An essential aspect of this is the risk transfer of project risks that can significantly jeopardize success.

WIEHAG has long since established itself as a leading timber construction specialist, and the order books are well filled even in these challenging times. Thus, the timber specialists from Altheim expect further high-rise orders in sustainable timber construction in the coming years.

“In 2021, we will invest in the expansion of our production buildings and facilities in order to meet the new market with larger capacities,” announces Brigitte Riedner, CFO of WIEHAG Holding. On board: GrECo as a trustworthy and powerful partner in risk and insurance management.

Dipl. Ing. Johannes Rebhahn
Sales Manager Engineered Timber Construction International WIEHAG GmbH
T +43 7723 465 375

Johannes Rebhahn was born into a traditional sawmill family in Austria. He studied civil engineering at the TU Graz and in Lisbon before starting at WIEHAG in 2002. After several years in timber construction engineering, he started to develop the international market for WIEHAG and is currently Sales Manager for international timber engineering and responsible for all projects outside Austria and Germany.

Brigitte Riedner
Finance management
T +43 7723 465 1261

After completing her training, Brigitte Riedner worked quite a long time for a medium-sized industrial company in Salzburg, with responsibility for finance and accounting, controlling, insurance, human resources, IT and internal organization. Since 2019, she has been Head of Finance and Accounting for the WIEHAG Group. Currently, the focus is on digitalization in accounting and investment financing. She has been working closely with GrECo’s Account Managers for two decades now.

WIEHAG Holding GmbH is a traditional company of the Wiesner family in the 5th generation. Headquartered in Altheim, Upper Austria, WIEHAG has over 160 years of experience in timber construction and is a leading supplier of long-span load-bearing systems and complete roofs. Other business areas include roof, ceiling and wall elements, standard glulam and connector systems for beam girders. With a state-of-the-art CNC production plant, over 70.000 m³ of glulam and 80.000 m² of roof elements are produced annually. WIEHAG stands for wide-ranging competence in engineered timber construction.

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