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Innovative use of wood products at Western Oregon University


The 6,000 students at Western Oregon University now have a new College of Education Building called the Richard Woodcock Education Center. The building is unique for several reasons…one of which includes the use of cross-laminated timber. The stand-alone two-story, 57,000 square-foot building houses 13 classrooms, 3 computer labs, meeting areas and 86 offices. The building opens to students in the fall of 2016.

The structure of the building uses a wide mix of wood products, and is the first completed multi-story building in Oregon to utilize cross-laminated timber. In fact, according to a Western Oregon University press release, the building received a designation from Oregon Governor Kitzhaber to promote “innovative use of wood products as a green building material, which encourages innovative uses of wood products and increases markets for Oregon wood products.”

“Following the Governor’s executive order, the Richard Woodcock Center is unique in utilizing nearly every kind of wood product on the market,” says Structural Engineer Ed Quesenberry of Equilibrium Engineers.  “Working with Mahlum Architects, we developed a structural system that utilized cross-laminated timber (CLT) in wall and floor applications in the open ‘collaborative hubs’ at the two main entrances to the building, Lock Deck and exposed glulams in one large multi-purpose classroom, and more traditional joist and stud wood framing elsewhere.”

The Education Center primarily consists of classrooms and faculty offices. The classrooms are big, open spaces, while the offices are smaller. Quesenberry explains that this room layout required the use of open-web wood joists for the 30-36 foot-long spans over the first-floor classrooms and wood I joists over the smaller offices to maintain cost efficiency. Additionally, they needed to keep the floor-to-floor height to a minimum to provide economy for exterior cladding while allowing enough room for HVAC and other mechanical systems to be distributed throughout the building.

The final solution includes 7,752 lineal feet of RedBuilt Red-S open web trusses with laminated veneer lumber chords that span 31 to 36 feet over the classrooms, and 9,718 lineal feet of Red-I65 joists spanning up to 20 feet over the offices and corridors. The design team addressed the concern of noise transfer between the second and first floors by adding three inches of concrete on top of the second floor sheathing. No problem. The Red-S open web trusses and Red-I joists provided the load capacity to support the heavier floor weight, even with the longer spans.

“Together with our RedBuilt tech rep, we worked through all the different areas of the building and developed the optimal framing solution for the entire second floor,” says Quesenberry. “The collaboration was great and made good sense since RedBuilt offers design services for their products. Since they  know their product the best, we were confident that the design we developed would work well.”

“Based on our back and forth discussions with RedBuilt, we knew we had the most economical system,” explains Quesenberry. “Our Rep presented options to increase on-center spacing and use larger I-joists for cost savings. He did the economical analysis to get the best floor possible. I would have had a hard time getting all that information on my own, so we really leveraged that collaborative relationship with the manufacturer. That’s what I really enjoyed. He helped determine the most economical connection details, which is important when there are interfaces between different joist systems like we had on this building. Together we went through the drawings to find different opportunities to incorporate framing efficiencies in to our documents. Our Rep knows what works and what doesn’t. It just made sense to bring in the expert and partner in the design process.”

Furthermore, Tech Reps help ensure proper installation on the job site. This is just more added benefit in working with a service-focused manufacturer such as RedBuilt.