Cypress beat out Douglas fir as the wood of choice used in the recent terminal expansion at Jackson Hole Airport (JAC).

Nestled in Grand Teton National Park, WY, Jackson Hole is the only commercial airport located within a U.S. national park. Its panoramic views of the Teton mountain range to the east and the Gros Ventre (Big Belly) range to the west are not only awe-inspiring but create significant design challenges.

"One of our challenges was preordained by Grand Teton National Park," said Gensler architect, Brent Mather, design director and senior associate of the architecture firm's Denver office. "Buildings couldn’t be higher than 18 feet to ensure unobstructed views of the mountains."

A more daunting task was selecting durable materials that could withstand Wyoming’s drastic winter weather — dry and often reaching minus 30F — while adding beauty and aesthetic warmth to the project. Carney Logan Burke Architects, a local firm, helped Gensler select materials suited for the area’s climate and vernacular.

Cypress Wood Warms New Jackson Hole Airport Cypress Gets the Call
The design team wanted to utilize wood’s natural attributes on the building’s exterior and interior. "We originally specified Douglas fir, but after consulting with a leading manufacturer of acoustical ceiling panels, we substituted it with cypress, which is considered more rot resistant," Mather said. "The extreme weather exposure of the exterior was the major driver behind the change."

According to the Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association (SCMA), cypress also got the nod because it performs just as well as Douglas fir, machines easily and dries well.

The LEED Silver-rated project features cypress panels that line the cantilevered ceiling on the exterior of the building, continue into the entry vestibules, and span the new 14,000-square-foot ticketing lobby. A low-VOC sealer protects the panels from the elements, preserves their natural honey tones and improves the terminal’s indoor air quality. With the extensive use of cypress, the expanded 115,000-square-foot terminal, evokes a ski lodge vibe.

Airport director and Wyoming native Ray Bishop calls the project a, "piece of art. The wood element provides the backdrop for the entire structure, and gives the visitor that unique Wyoming feel. The architecture fits the beauty of the Tetons and showcases the wonder of the most beautiful place on Earth."

Learn more about cypress at

Read the Wood of the Month column about cypress.

Posted by Rich Christianson

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