Heavy timber cannot span as far or with such delicacy as steel, and it cannot mimic the structural continuity or smooth shell forms of concrete, yet many people respond more positively to the idea of a timber building than they do to one of steel or concrete. To some degree, this response may stem from the color, grain figure, and warmer feel of wood. In part, it may also come from the pleasant associations that people have with the sturdy, satisfying houses our ancestors erected from handhewn timbers only a few generations
ago. Most people today live in dwellings where none of the framing is exposed. Exposed ceiling beams in
one's house or apartment are considered an amenity, and shopping or restaurant dining in a converted mill  building of heavy timber and masonry construction is generally thought  to be a pleasant experience. There  is something in all of us that derives satisfaction from seeing wood beams  at work.

In economic reality, heavy timber must compete successfully on the basis of price with other construction materials, and as our forests have diminished in quality and shipping costs have risen, timber is no longer an automatic choice for building a mill or any other type of structure. For many  buildings, however, heavy timber is an economical alternative to steel and concrete, particularly in situations  where the appearance and feel of its large wooden members will be highly  valued by those who use it, in regions  close to commercial forests, or where code provisions or fire insurance premiums create a financial incentive.

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