Additional Insured Not Entitled to Coverage for Post-Completion Defects

Tred R. Eyerly | Insurance Law Hawaii | December 21, 2016

The general contractor, an additional insured on the subcontractor’s policy, was not entitled to coverage for construction defect claims that arose after completion of the project. Weitz Co. v. Acuity, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150433 (S.D. Ohio Oct. 31, 2016).

Weitz was the general contractor hired by Twin Lakes for construction of a residential community. One of the subcontractors, Miter Masonry, was insured by Acuity under a CGL policy. Work on the project began in 2002 and was substantially completed in 2005. In 2011, Twin Lakes notified Weitz that there were moisture infiltration issues at the project that may be related to work during the project.

Twin Lakes filed a Demand for Arbitration against Weitz on November 30, 2012. Twin Lakes alleged that the defects included the building wrap, windows, doors, wood trim, aluminum wrap, vinyl siding, flashing and brick veneer not being installed in accordance with contract documents and/or industry standards. The arbitration panel awarded damages to Twin Lakes in the amount of $2,775,771.86. The panel found that Weitz breached sections of the contract which caused moisture intrusion and damage to all the units. The panel ultimately held that Weitz could recover from the subcontractors 100% of the $2,775,771.86 awarded. Acuity’s insured, Miter Masonry, was determined to be 4% at fault for the damages.

Weitz sued Acuity, arguing it was entitled to a defense and indemnity against the claims asserted by Twin Lakes. The policy included an “Additional Insured – Completed Operations” endorsement. The endorsement provided coverage for an additional insured for whom the insured was to perform operations. Coverage was limited, however, to liability included in the products-completed operations hazard for property damage caused by the insured’s work. The policy defined products-completed operations hazard as “all . . . property damage occurring away from premises you own or rent and arising out of your product or your work except work that has not yet been completed or abandoned.”

Weitz moved for summary judgment seeking a ruling that Acuity owed a defense in the arbitration. The motion was denied. The first time Weitz provided notice of property damage to Acuity was on June 30, 2011, several years after the project was completed. Additional insured coverage was limited for completed operations and did not apply to:

Bodily injury or property damage that occurs after the time period during which the contract or agreement described in item 1 requires you to add such person or organization onto your policy as an additional insured for completed operations . . .

Weitz’s claims for additional insured coverage failed because there was no evidence that the alleged property damage occurred within the time limit specified in the policy. In the subcontract between Weitz and Miter, the subcontractor was required to continue CGL coverage for at least two years following final payment to the Contractor in connection with the project. The “Additional Insured – Completed Operations” endorsement did not apply to property damage occurring after two years following final payment to the contractor in connection with the project. Final payment to Weitz was on July 31, 2005, when the project was completed. There was no evidence that the alleged property damage occurred before the expiration of the two-year period. Therefore, Weitz was not entitled to additional insured coverage, and Acuity had not duty to defend or indemnify Weitz.

The court further noted that under Ohio law, there was no allegation of property damage. The Arbitration Panel specifically found that Weitz failed to perform in a workmanlike manner. Moreover, Weitz breached its contract with Twin Lakes, causing the moisture intrusion and the resulting damage to all the units. The claims of defective workmanship brought by a property owner were not claims for “property damage” caused by an “occurrence” under Ohio law.

Oregon Supreme Court Reaffirms Broad Nature of the Duty to Defend, even in the Face of Ambiguous or Unclear Allegations

Kevin Mapes | The Policyholder Report | December 14, 2016

Back in August 2015, I wrote this post about the Oregon Court of Appeals opinion in West Hills Development Co. v. Chartis Claims, Inc., where the court confirmed that Oregon’s broad duty to defend extended to parties claiming rights as “additional insureds.” Last week, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed that decision, broadly holding that “regardless of ambiguity or lack of clarity, the duty to defend is triggered if the complaint’s allegations, reasonable interpreted, could result in the insured being held liable for damages covered by the policy.”

As noted in my prior post, contracting parties rely on indemnity agreements and additional insured status to protect against liability arising from the other party’s negligence. Insurers, however, frequently ignore or summarily deny tenders from parties who qualify as additional insureds under the policies they issued. That is exactly what happened in West Hills. A general contractor was sued for alleged construction defects in a townhome project. The general contractor then tendered the defense of that lawsuit to a subcontractor’s insurer as an additional insured under the subcontractor’s insurance policy. The subcontractor’s insurer denied coverage, and the general contractor, West Hills, sued the insurer, Oregon Automobile Insurance Company (“Oregon Auto”), for breach of the duty to defend. The trial court agreed with West Hills, granting summary judgment in the contractor’s favor, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

In ruling in favor of the additional insured last week in West Hills Development Co. v. Chartis Claims, Inc., the Oregon Supreme Court focused on the application of the four-corners rule, which holds that the duty to defend is determined by reference to two, and only two, documents: the allegations of the complaint and the terms of the insurance policy. “On its face, the four-corners rule seems clear. Applying that rule to real world complaints, however, can create more of a challenge. In particular, a complaint may not definitively allege the facts that ultimately will determine whether a claim is covered by the policy.” After a four-paragraph discussion of a 1949 Second Circuit opinion by Chief Judge Learned Hand, the Oregon Supreme Court reaffirmed long-standing Oregon law: that the duty to defend is triggered wherever “the court can reasonably interpret the allegations to include an incident or injury that falls within the coverage of the policy,” soundly rejecting the insurer’s argument that there is no duty to defend unless the complaint “rules in” coverage.

The Court rejected Oregon Auto’s argument that it had no duty to defend because the underlying complaint did not identify its insured subcontractor, L&T Enterprises, by name. “The complaint expressly alleged that West Hills was liable for subcontractor operations that had been performed for West Hills[.] … L&T may not have been identified by name in the complaint, but that is not the issue. The allegations of the complaint reasonably could be interpreted to result in West Hills being held liable for conduct covered by the policy: L&T’s operations for West Hills.”

Finally, the Court rejected Oregon Auto’s attempt to avoid its defense obligation on the grounds that its additional insured endorsement provided coverage only for liabilities arising from L&T’s “ongoing operations.” “The complaint alleges that damages had occurred by the time the owners purchased their townhomes. It is possible that the damages occurred earlier. Reasonably interpreted, then, the complaint could result in West Hills being held liable for conduct covered by the ploy.”

The Supreme Court’s opinion in West Hills doesn’t really break new ground in Oregon coverage law. Nonetheless, the case presents an important reminder of the broad nature of the duty to defend, whether that duty is applied to the named insured or to a contractually-required “additional insured.” Insurers cannot hide behind vague factual allegations in a complaint to avoid their defense obligations. Nor can insurers deny coverage solely based on poorly defined “ongoing operations” language. “[R]egardless of ambiguity or lack of clarity, the duty to defend is triggered if the complaint’s allegations, reasonably interpreted, could result in the insured being held liable for damages covered by the policy.” Oregon policyholders should not hesitate to force insurers to apply that broad standard and honor their contractual defense obligations.

No CGL Coverage for Building Contractor’s Shoddy Workmanship Causing Damage to the Work Itself

Richard Wolf | Claims Journal | December 6, 2016

In a decision filed November 18, 2016, Arkansas U. S. district judge Susan Webber Wright, the same jurist who in 1998 handed a defeat to Paula Jones in her sexual harassment lawsuit against then President Bill Clinton, dealt this time with a more tame but still important question: Whether a CGL policy issued to a building general contractor covers its liability for defective workmanship causing property damage confined to the contractor’s own work product.

The new decision is titled Auto-Owner’s Insurance Company v. Hambuchen Construction, Inc., and is reported at 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160364. It answered the question posed in the negative and stands for the proposition that CGL policies insuring a contractor’s liability for property damage caused by an “occurrence”- defined in the policies as an accident – do not cover a contractor’s liability for property damage caused by defective workmanship alone, resulting in injury only to the work product itself. However, the court held, the insurer may still be obligated to indemnify the insured for collateral damage to other property.

Faced with a summary judgment motion challenging coverage by the insurer, Auto-Owner’s Insurance Company, which had issued a CGL policy to Hambuchen Construction, Inc., a contractor hired separately by the Pierce and Lessmann families to build a new residence for each of them, Hambuchen conceded that damage only to its own work product is not an “occurrence” and therefore not covered. Hambuchen argued, however, that the Pierces and the Lessmanns were making claims against Hambuchen for collateral damage to property other than Hambuchen’s work product itself.

The problem for Hambuchen was that the construction project for each of the two families was to build an entire home, so at least regarding the Pierce project, all of the improvements formed part of the work product of Hambuchen, a fact central to the court’s decision. The Pierces’ construction project included construction by Hambuchen of multiple decks on the exterior of the home, the portions of the structure that failed. Thus, in a lawsuit brought by the Pierces against Hambuchen, the Pierces alleged that two years after they moved into their new home, water began pooling on the back deck, water leaks began appearing at various places inside the home, and the basement flooded. Accordingly, the Pierces sought damages for defective workmanship only to Hambuchen ‘s work product, which did not qualify as property damage caused by an “occurrence.”

As for the Lessmanns, following completion of their new home by Hambuchen, they complained that the foundation was unstable and presented a list of other claimed damages resulting from the shifting foundation, including damage to sheet rock and sod. The court said that, although damage to sod “might qualify as collateral damage to other property,” damaged sheet rock resulting from a shifting foundation was “more likely properly classified as damage to the [insured’s] ‘work product’ itself.”

The court, in granting the summary judgment motion, conducted a three part analysis for evaluating coverage under the CGL policy issued to Hambuchen. First, it examined the facts of insured’s third party claims to determine whether the policy’s insuring agreement makes an initial grant of insurance covering them. Next, the court examined the policy’s exclusions to see whether any of them precluded coverage of the two homeowners’ claims against Hambuchen. Finally, the court looked to see whether any exception to an applicable exclusion reinstated coverage for the claims against Hambuchen.

Turning first to the policy’s insuring agreement, the court applied Arkansas law to determine whether the alleged losses resulted from an “occurrence,” defined by the policy as an “accident.” The Arkansas Supreme Court has held in this context that the term “accident” means “an event that takes place without one’s foresight or expectation – an event that proceeds from an unknown cause, or an unusual effect of a known cause and therefore not expected.”

Auto-Owners, the builder’s insurer, argued that its CGL policy provided no possible coverage for the homeowners’ lawsuits, because their claims were that the property damage at issue resulted from defective workmanship, not an unexpected event, and therefore not an “occurrence.” Instead of addressing the insurer’s argument directly, however, the court relied upon the decision Essex Ins. Co. v. Holder (2008) 370 Ark. 465, 540 in which the court held that when faulty workmanship results in damage to the insured’s work product, there is no coverage for that property damage, but the insurer may still be obligated to reimburse the insured for collateral damage to other property, not part of the work product itself. The Holder decision, therefore, did not address the defined meaning of the term “occurrence” set forth in the CGL policy. Instead, it evaluated the type of property damaged as the basis for deciding whether the damage was caused by an “accident.” It held that “defective workmanship standing alone – resulting in damages only to the work product itself – is not an occurrence. . .” (Holder, 370 Ark., p. 540.)

In this respect the decision parted company with other cases’ analyses, keying into the coverage element of “property damage” itself, rather than the nature of the occurrence. Under such analyses, “In general there is no coverage for the cost of removing and replacing defective work or material where the only property ‘damage’ is the defective work itself and no damage has occurred to other property. Such costs are considered economic loss, not ‘physical injury’ to the property.” (California Practice Guide, Insurance Litigation, §7:1426.)

Ironically, as set forth in a footnote in the subject decision, the Auto-Owners policy issued in 2008 preceded the effective date of an Arkansas statute providing that CGL policies sold in Arkansas must define the policy term “occurrence” to include property damage resulting from faulty workmanship.

Absent an exclusion, however, collateral damage to other property nearby was covered by the policy.

The court then proceeded to discuss the coverage exclusions of the policy, since Auto-Owners asserted that, even assuming that coverage was possible under the insuring agreement qualifying as “property damage” caused by “an occurrence”, there still was no coverage. The first exclusion considered was entitled “Damage to Your Work,” which excepted from coverage loss due to property damage to the contractor’s work arising out of it or any part of it and included in the products-completed operations hazard.”

In connection with this exclusion, Hambuchen made two arguments. First it contended that the insurer had failed to present evidence that all of the damages alleged in the owners’ lawsuits, especially the consequential or resultant damage beyond the alleged effective workmanship, fell under the policy’s definition of “your work.” The court examined the definition of “your work” as applied to the homeowners’ claims, and the court noted that the underlying lawsuits, with the possible exception of the cost of sod replacement claimed by the Lessmanns, the homeowner plaintiffs’ claims sought relief for damage to the completed homes, which certainly met the policy’s definition of “your work”, since they were building the homes from scratch. Furthermore, the court noted, “the damage to your work exclusion unambiguously encompassed property damage arising out of Hambuchen’s work, or a part of it. Accordingly the court found that the insurer had carried its burden to show that the property damage claim in the underlying lawsuits fell under the “Damages to your Work” exclusion.

The second Hambuchen argument regarding the “Damages to your Work” exclusion was that the “products-completed operations hazard” operated as an exception to the “your work” exclusion. Hambuchen contended that a products-completed operations hazard provision in a CGL policy is invariably an exception to the business risk exclusions such as “your work” exclusions. But the court rejected this view finding that risk insured by a products hazard and completed operations provision work, once completed and relinquished, will cause damage to property other than to the product or completed work itself. “Here,” said the court, ” the Pierces and Lessmanns seek relief for damage to the product or completed work [of Hambuchen] itself.” Accordingly, the court held that the “Damage to your Work” exclusion precluded coverage for all property damage claimed in the homeowners’ lawsuits, including property damage that comes under the policy’s “products- completed operations hazard” definition.

Because the court found no possibility that the damages alleged in the underlying cases fell within the policy’s coverage, Auto-Owners had no duty to defend or indemnify Hambuchen against the Pierces’ and Lessmanns’ lawsuits.

Finally, as if there were any life left in the contentions of Hambuchen, the Pierces and the Lessmanns (who were themselves allied with Hambuchen as defendants in the coverage litigation) the court examined the defense of late notice to the CGL insurer by Hambuchen of the Lessmanns lawsuit, a condition of coverage strictly enforced in Arkansas. Here the Lessmanns filed suit against Hambuchen in May, 2009, and Auto-Owners learned about the lawsuit six years later, in August, 20015. Since timely notice was as condition proceeding to coverage, the Lessmann lawsuit was outside of coverage for that reason, too.

Based on all the reasons given by the court, but not limiting itself to the individual defenses noted above, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Auto-Owners Insurance Company and against Hambuchen, the Pierces and the Lessmanns.

What Does Mold Resistant Really Mean?

Duane Craig | Construction Informer | December 12, 2016

Mold resistant building products offer to reduce the long term risks builders and architects face, but it’s important to know how companies verify their products are truly mold resistant. Here’s the deep story.

It may come as a surprise to many but we live in a world that is infested with mold. Some sources put the number of species of mold, or fungi, at three hundred thousand or more. Most of these fungi spend their time doing useful things like breaking down complex substances into simpler compounds. For example the single-celled forms of fungi, called yeast, make bread, beer, and wine possible. Even most of the multi-celled, or hyphae molds, serve the planet by decomposing organic matter so it can be recycled and reused by other life forms on earth.

Outdoor Mold Dominates

The built environment definitely has its share of mold. But new research has found that most of the mold occurring inside is actually of the outdoor variety. In “The Diversity and Distribution of Fungi on Residential Surfaces” study, Rachel I. Adams and researchers “sampled fungi from three surface types likely to support growth and therefore possible contributors of fungi to indoor air: drains in kitchens and bathrooms, sills beneath condensation-prone windows, and skin of human inhabitants. ” They took the samples at a university housing complex that didn’t have any mold problems.

Taken together, results from these studies suggest that in healthy buildings without reported mold problems, indoor surfaces are not a dominant source for indoor fungi. In fact the reverse is true: surfaces appear to be primarily depositional environments that collect many of the same fungi common in outdoor and indoor air.

So, most indoor mold isn’t actively growing because it is outdoor mold that prefers outdoor conditions for multiplying. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) construction areas are in the top eight places with high mold populations. Other places offering high mold counts include:

antique shops, greenhouses, saunas, farms, mills, flower shops, and summer homes.

Sampling For Presence Has Questionable Value

Most of the time even though mold is present in our buildings it isn’t actively growing to the extent we can see it with the unaided eye. Then too, mold growth is greatly affected by humidity and since many of our buildings are air conditioned, or use dehumidifiers, the opportunity for mold growth is diminished. The CDC doesn’t recommend sampling for mold because allergies are the diseases usually associated with mold and,

…the susceptibility of individuals can vary greatly either because of the amount or type of mold, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal.

Mold growing in petri dishes. (photo courtesy of John Martyny, Ph.D.)

Mold growing in petri dishes.(Photo Courtesy of EPA Web Site and John Martyny, Ph.D.)

One species of mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, in particular has been suspected of causing respiratory health problems in infants, and others, and is one of the test cultures mandated in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Test and Quality Assurance Plan” for testing mold-resistant building materials.

Companies that sell building products are increasingly having their products certified to be mold resistant, based upon tests. The tests usually involve introducing mold cultures to the product under controlled conditions with moisture levels higher than 85 percent, and then either looking for visible evidence of mold, or measuring how much mold grows using microbiological plating techniques. Different types of materials use different tests. Drywall typically is tested with one of two methods.

Building Products Testing Methods

One test is ASTM D3273, and that assesses the mold resistance of the drywall over a period of four weeks, with visual effects being rated weekly. Samples of the product are suspended in an environmental chamber over soil that has been inoculated with several species of fungi. At the end of four weeks the samples are looked at under magnification to confirm the suspicion that the visual observations were indeed of mold. This test method seeks to simulate real world conditions because it relies on indirect inoculation. According to a document put out by United States Gypsum company there are six limitations to this test method. They include:

  • Results not being indicative of field conditions and highly variable field conditions.
  • Only tests for three varieties of fungi.
  • Originally designed to test for mold resistance of paints and similar coatings.
  • Difficulty in getting reproducible results from lab to lab.

Another test method is ASTM D6329. In this case each sample is corralled in its very own petri dish while the humidity can be varied to accommodate the species of mold that were placed on the sample. The rating attempts to become more exacting by not relying on visual criteria and instead quantifying the amount of fungal growth using plating techniques. By my reading the advantages here are less chance of cross contamination and greater accuracy. But it seems that no mold testing method is really limitation free. According to ASTM, in this case, static chambers limit the quantity of a material that can be tested and results may not be indicative of what would happen in the field.

Moving Toward a Standard

The EPA ran a project aimed at making the testing protocols for drywall, and other building materials, more standardized and accurate. As it explained in its December 2008 brief:

Removal of growth substrates from building materials, or the incorporation of antimicrobial agents in the manufacturing of building products may prevent mold growth and the spread of biological contaminants. There are several building products readily available that can reduce mold growth in the indoor environment. However, there is no nationally accepted testing and verification program to guide consumers and building professionals on how to select or specify the best building products for their needs. To help fill this need, EPA started an ESTE project to verify the performance of microbial resistant building products. EPA has contracted with RTI International to develop the protocol and perform the testing needed to verify these products.

When the EPA references this testing protocol in its Test and Quality Assurance Plan it cites it as ASTM D6329-98(2008). In this plan the test is designed to run for 12 weeks, four times longer than ASTM D3273. The quantitative assessment here is a count of the number of colony-forming units (CFUs) taken from samples collected during weeks 1, 6 and 12, and compared against the baseline level of CFUs at the start of the test.So, given the strengths and limitations of each test method it would seem only products that came through one or the other test with absolutely no fungal growth would be mold resistant in the true sense of the term.

Using Multiple Standards

According to Kendall Clark, research & development program manager for Georgia-Pacific Gypsum, the company had products that met the no visible growth criteria using the ASTM D3273 test protocol. The company subjected products to the ASTM D6329 test for 12 weeks and came up with “no growth” there too.

Mold growth can occur on regular drywall within two weeks. Our DensArmor Plus and DensShield products are manufactured to show no mold growth in the ASTM D3273 test (28 days), said Clark. In an effort to assess the robustness of our product, we ran the 12 week test and showed no growth for that period. This type of performance makes our products extremely well suited for applications such as installation of the wall panels before the building is fully enclosed or “dried in”. This sequencing allows the building project to proceed on an accelerated pace.

I was curious just why the company had gone ahead with the ASTM D6329 test. Here’s what Clark had to say.

The test was conducted to demonstrate the durability and robustness that is designed into our products that we do not feel is fully captured and reflected by the industry standard ASTM D3273 test. The product selected for the test was standard production product. No reformulation was involved in the test product. The decision to conduct the testing was based on our belief that while the current industry standard test (ASTM D3273) is a reasonable measure of mold resistance for a relatively short period of time (28 days); it does not provide a good reflection of long-term mold resistance and durability that would provide a higher level of confidence relative to the product’s ability to withstand real world conditions seen on construction sites.

What all of this means to architects, contractors and building owners depends upon a lot of factors that would be unique to each one, but Clark suggested a common benefit exists.

The extended testing period is meant to demonstrate the durability and robustness of the product design. Each of the groups… will likely experience an unexpected moisture event during the product’s life that will be atypical with respect to magnitude and/or duration. The extended test indicates that our product can provide resistance to mold growth for a period that is three times longer than the industry standard test; thereby providing greater confidence for the architect, builder or owner that the product will not need to be replaced due to mold growth.

So, when evaluating products, it seems the verifications a manufacturer uses to support its claims of mold resistance are key in assessing their expected performance. When all things are considered, including the price of the product, bothering with “somewhat” resistive, or “marginally” resistive products will add just some, or just marginal additional value to buildings.

Skyscrapers Made of Wood? NBM Show Argues for Alternative to Steel, Concrete.

Mark Jenkins | The Washington Post | December 16, 2016

Anyone who looks up while walking Washington’s streets can reckon what the building material of the future is. Most new structures feature glass walls, which have turned downtown into a giant peep show. Stone and concrete facades are being stripped and replaced with even more of the tempered, transparent material.

“Timber City,” an illuminating if not see-through exhibition at the National Building Museum, proposes an alternative. Tomorrow’s buildings will — or should — be constructed of wood. Structures of prefabricated wooden panels can be erected faster than steel-and-concrete ones and could substantially reduce global carbon dioxide emissions.

Wooden buildings are lighter, and thus require much smaller foundations. This is significant not just for financial reasons. Concrete manufacturing is the world’s third-largest source of greenhouse gases, and harvesting timber — a renewable resource — has a lower environmental cost than mining the materials to make steel and concrete. Also, wood is 15 times as thermally efficient as concrete, reducing heating and air-conditioning demands.

A new 10-story residential building on West 18th Street in New York is the city’s first structural timber building and will, the show explains, reduce energy consumption by 50 percent. Wood also sequesters rather than emits carbon.

What if the kids in Apt. 8C play with matches? Fire is the principal reason building codes in the United States and elsewhere discourage or ban wood. But the structures “Timber City” extols are not rustic log cabins or the wood-and-paper houses of the city later renamed Tokyo, which used to burn so often that blazes were called “the flowers of Edo.”

Today’s wood-frame structures employ such new materials as cross-laminated timber (CLT) and laminated veneer lumber, engineered composites that combine multiple pieces for greater strength. These resist fire better than unprotected steel, which weakens faster than wood when heated. Charring its exterior actually protects wood from fire, so it wasn’t just a poetic gesture when a recently constructed Oregon fire station was covered with blackened wood from a flame-damaged local barn.

Wood is seen these days as primarily decorative. But wooden structures, charred or not, can stand for centuries. The exhibition includes pictures of the country’s oldest one, Fairbanks House in Massachusetts, built in 1641, and the world’s most venerable wooden pagoda, China’s Sakyamuni, which dates to 1056.

Wood may never enter one of architecture’s most pointless competitions — the quest to build ever-higher skyscrapers in places that generally have no other landmarks. But Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has designed a 42-story tower that, if built, will have a carbon footprint 60 percent smaller than a same-size edifice erected with steel and concrete.

There would be concrete in that wooden skyscraper, just less of it than in a conventional structure. “Wood environments make people happy,” chirps the show’s text, yet “Timber City” doesn’t forecast a future of all-wood buildings. The design department hall at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, scheduled for completion next year, will feature an aluminum facade wrapped around its wooden skeleton. And, of course, wood frames can support glass curtain walls just as steel ones do.

Exhibition curators and designers Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura, founding partners of the Boston architecture firm IKD, include architectural models, a video about managed forests and a world map that highlights more than 30 notable recent wooden buildings. There’s also a selection of tree stumps, examples of manufactured wood and types of lumber waste (nearly all of which can be used commercially).

Most of the show’s copious information is printed on Douglas fir panels that dominate the exhibition. These are smaller cousins of the two largest pieces on display: a 63-foot vertical, which reaches the museum’s third floor, and a 40-foot horizontal. The panels also give the second-floor gallery a pleasant aroma.

Although printing the text on giant planks is picturesque, it doesn’t disguise that the show is as wordy as it is woodsy. This is a forest of data, one in which visitors could get lost. The young and the restless may want to leave before they learn very much about CLT, sustainability and the struggle to update anti-wood building codes.

Yet “Timber City” should engross those who don’t mind an exhibition that’s more text than pictures, more ideas than artifacts. If those ideas are as viable as they seem here, we will someday walk through neighborhoods where wooden buildings are as common as steel-and-glass ones are now.