Oregon State University Projects Feature Innovative Wood Building Products
The Future of Forestry: Oregon State University Uses New College of Forestry Headquarters to Showcase Engineered Wood Products
Two new buildings for the Oregon State University’s premier forestry program in Corvallis will showcase the use of structurally engineered wood products.
“The vision came about almost five years ago to create a new headquarters for the OSU College of Forestry and to demonstrate the future of forestry from a variety of perspectives, including and, perhaps most importantly, the uses of innovative wood products to demonstrate where the industry in the Northwest can go from here,” says Geoff Huntington, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Oregon State University College of Forestry.
The new buildings include the three-story George W. Peavy Forest Science Center, scheduled for completion in 2020, and the 16,000-square-foot A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory, set to finish later this year. State construction bonds and donations are funding the complex.
“We sought to create a learning environment that would both attract students to our college and industry and also serve as a bridge to demonstrate the relevance and potential of the forest industry in the Northwest,” Huntington says. “We are trying to link timber-dependent local communities and the interest of fast-growing urban areas.”
OSU Forestry Construction
Michael Green Architecture in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, designed the buildings. Andersen Construction Co., of Portland, received the contract for both all-wood structures. All of the wood structural components in the building were sourced from within 300 miles of campus, and OSU incorporated as many different wood products from as many different northwest companies as possible, said Huntington.
“It will be a beautiful building,” says Brad Nile, Project Manager with Andersen Construction. “It is going to be remarkable.”
The 80,687-square-foot Peavy Forest Science Center houses administrative offices, classrooms, laboratories and public spaces. Although it is primarily wood, the floors are concrete.
“We are utilizing these materials in a more sophisticated way,” Nile says. “It’s based on the complete modeling of the structure.”
All of the elements are in the model and analyzed to seamlessly build the structure.
“This is a fun way to build buildings, because it is a giant kit you are putting together,” Nile says. “The pieces are all precut and ready to go.”
The science center features a “rocking wall” seismic design. Huntington said it will be the first building in the United States with this seismic design, which originated in New Zealand.
“The building is capable of flexing in an earthquake,” Huntington explains. “Because of post-tension rods in the design, the structural pieces then snap back into place after the earthquake event, without compromising the structural integrity of the building. This means it can be reoccupied.”
Nile explains that sheer walls are wood and are anchored to the foundation with connections that flex and deform during significant seismic loads and dissipate energy.
The 16,000-square-foot, 45-foot tall advanced wood products laboratory features a high-bay laboratory, with a strong floor to allow for structural testing of mass timber products up to three stories tall. It also features a design lab. This building also will become the home of the TallWood Design Institute, a collaboration among the OSU College of Forestry, OSU College of Engineering and the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts. The institute will help commercialize innovative wood building products by linking design professionals directly with wood-products manufacturing.
“This building will put us in the top five percent of wood product testing laboratory space in the world,” Huntington says. “We will be capable of building a 40-foot by 60-feet structure, three-stories high on a strong floor with a reaction wall that allows us to do testing of connections and products.”
The laboratory building also will house fabrication equipment.
Engineered value-add wood products are panels and beams and structural components products made from dimensional lumber, veneer or composite materials from wood fiber. These include cross-laminated timber, laminated veneer lumber, glued-laminated wooden beams and mass plywood panels.
“There are some really interesting new uses as structural and aesthetic components in wood buildings that architects and engineers are wanting to use as they seek to build more sustainable structures,” says Huntington, who explains that sustainability, speed of construction and aesthetics are driving the use of wood building components in nonresidential projects.
Mass plywood panels and cross-laminated timberare relatively new products, which use existing technology. Mass plywood panels can be as large as 12 feet by 60 feet and 2 feet thick.
“These panels can replace concrete and steel as structural components of buildings,” Huntington says. “Along with glue-lam beams, these panels are the driving force in the revolution of designing tall wood buildings, or wood buildings that are not reliant on concrete and steel as the primary structural components.”
These products have already been used to build structures in Massachusetts, British Columbia, Minnesota, and around the world, including the recently completed 18-story Mjosa Tower in Norway, which claims to be the world’s tallest wood building. Huntington says European companies ship engineered wood to projects throughout the world, including the Pacific Rim, and that offers an opportunity for the wood-products industry in the Pacific Northwest to compete in these emerging global markets.
“Douglas fir is perfectly suited for mass timber buildings,” Huntington says. “We have a strong industry here making these products, and they can compete in quality and location for delivery to new markets.”
The engineered wood components are fabricated using CAD design or building information modeling. Nile calls the amount of time devoted to the modeling significant and the most important thing.
“You are 100 percent dependent on that shop drawing,” Nile says. “A lot of effort is spent in the management of the mechanical systems.
On the factory floor, computer controlled machines drill holes and cut notches that link to the design specifications. The panels and beams are shipped to the site where they are lifted into place and connected.
“When the columns and panels are manufactured, all the notches and holes are cut and drilled so everything you need to put it together is complete when delivered – similar to Ikea furniture kits,” Huntington explains.
Nile reports that the data from the model allows the factory to cut the large elements to size.
“The building is constructed quickly because there is little onsite preparation needed,” Huntington says. “I believe that speed of construction will be a major cost advantage for commercial construction with these materials.”
Engineered wood does not have the same fire risk as dimensional timber, because of the density of massive engineered wood panels and beams. OSU and other labs in the world have completed extensive fire testing proving the performance characteristics of the products.
“Mass timber building components have been shown to meet or exceed the performance of concrete or steel buildings,” Huntington says.
No special equipment is needed to work with engineered wood at the construction site, and the products are readily available.
“It is definitely a different approach to construction,” says Huntington.