Mass timber construction company Katerra announces plans to shut down

Michael Green Architecture, which was acquired by Katerra in 2018, is unimpacted by the closure.

Katerra, the modular prefabrication startup and timber construction company is reportedly shutting down and plans on letting its thousands of employees go, according to The Information. Vancouver-based Michael Green Architecture, which was acquired by Katerra in 2018, is unimpacted by the closure.

Despite the $2 billion investment by SoftBank to support the company in upending the construction industry using cross-laminated timber (CLT), The Information’s recent report reveals that Katerra will shut down this month and drop its current construction projects.

The potential construction giant, which launched in Silicon Valley in 2015 acquired Michael Green Architecture (MGA) and Lord Aeck Sargent in 2018.

The Catalyst Building is a 15,000-square-metre CLT office and academic facility that is pursuing Zero Carbon and Zero Energy certification. Photo © Benjamin Benschneider

“We are sad for the many people impacted by this decision. However, we are grateful that these actions have no impact on our operations, other than the movement of MGA shares back into our control. We are fortunate that we have been insulated from Katerra’s challenges because Principals Michael Green and Natalie Telewiak have been and remain the controlling Directors of the firm,” says Michael Green Architecture. “Our team remains busy with fun projects and great clients, and we are excited to continue to innovate and move forward to help solve the greatest challenges of our time; for people and planet.”

Katerra was founded by Michael Marks and Fritz Wolff. Based in Menlo Park, California, the startup company used software to manage construction, with a model of fabricating and supplying everything from wall systems to hardware.

The company planned to lead in creating multi-unit residential buildings as well as commercial structures. In December 2020, Katerra received another $200 million infusion from SoftBank, reportedly giving the Japanese company a majority stake.

The mass timber construction firm aimed to bring “the Silicon Valley approach to building,” by reducing reliance on skilled labor and automating the building process, according to The Architect’s Newspaper.