Oregon Forest Science Complex is Finally Completed

There is a lot of history in this difficult project.

Interior Peavy Hall

Josh Partee

Michael Green Architecture has just completed two buildings for the College of Forestry at Oregon State University; the new George W. Peavy Forest Science Center (Peavy Hall) and the A.A. "Red" Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory.

Green is the pioneer of mass timber in North America, and literally wrote the book on tall wood. Peavy Hall was one of the earliest buildings proposed to be built out of cross-laminated timber (CLT) way back in 2014; it was going to be a symbol of the rebirth of the timber industry in Oregon. As part of that program, it had to be built of local material, from DR Johnson, which had recently become the only local manufacturer of CLT. (We covered their entry into the market here.)

Exterior

Josh Partee

Unfortunately, a few of their panels were not glued properly, suffered from "catastrophic delamination," and a half-ton panel collapsed. After that, every panel had to be tested and many had to be replaced. The concrete and steel industry had a field day complaining that wood construction wasn't safe, but as Michael Green noted in the Oregonian in 2018, "I think it’s a localized issue, There’s no loss of confidence in the industry that we’re seeing."

Interior of buidling

Josh Partee

Green and the University persevered, and while Peavy Hall is late and over budget, this often happens with pioneers. And now that it is complete, one can see that it was worth waiting for.

Classroom

Josh Partee

The building may be a school, but it is also a testbed. It has an unusual rocking wall system to deal with earthquakes (I believe developed with Structurecraft and mentioned in a post on the firm here) and is loaded with tech:

"The wood structure is monitored by over 200 sensors that have been installed throughout the structure to gather data on vertical and horizontal structural movement as well as moisture. This data will be used for research into the performance of mass timber structures for the life of the building and will inform the future of good practice in building with mass timber."
exterior testing building

Ema Peter

The Advanced Wood Products Laboratory (AWP) will be used to test new wood technologies. "The building structure is a simple and elegant glulam and MPP [mass ply panel] system that works together to achieve the long span required. The lab space is broken into two bays:" More information on MPP from Freres Lumber here – remarkable stuff, it's plywood that is up to 2 feet thick.

Interior with screen

Ema Peter

"The unique design of the AWP building enclosure includes an integration of translucent panels and structural wood panels, creating a beautiful daylit high bay lab space that becomes the backdrop for innovation. To support a healthy and comfortable indoor environment, the glazing was upgraded to photochromatic glazing, which has advanced controls that react to the building orientation and local weather to maximize daylighting while reducing solar heat gain and glare."
Exterior walkway light

Ema Peter

Michael Green Architecture and structural engineers Equilibrium Consulting are both now owned by Katerra, the construction conglomerate that was going to revolutionize the industry, and the project is listed on Katerra's website. However, Katerra didn't build it or supply the CLT. Katerra is having its own issues at the time of writing, but that is another story.

Corridor with plastic wall

Ema Peter

The story here is one of an ambitious attempt to build a showcase project that as Jeff Manning described in the Oregonian, would be a model for the future. "With its ambitious use of wood that's been fortified to rival steel, Peavy Hall would underscore Oregon's place at the forefront of a revitalized forest products market." It may be a bit late to that party, but it lives up to its promise.

stairway in Peavy school

Josh Partee