TallWood Design Institute established at Oregon State U.
March 14, 2017 | 5:30 pm CDT

CORVALLIS, Ore. — The National Center for Advanced Wood Products Manufacturing and Design at Oregon State University has been renamed as the TallWood Design Institute.

The institute brings together the OSU College of Forestry; OSU College of Engineering; and the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts. It’s the nation’s only research collaborative that focuses exclusively on the advancement of structural wood products, and will serve as a national research, education, teaching and outreach hub in the development of tall wood buildings.

Iain Macdonald, an international leader in high-rise wood structures who led the Centre for Advanced Wood Products at the University of British Columbia for the past 10 years, has been hired as its first acting director.

“Oregon’s forest products industry and sustainable design profession are recognized for their products and progressive leadership internationally,” said Thomas Maness, dean of the College of Forestry. “The TallWood Design Institute works to link these two together in order to grow and leverage the use of new wood products in sustainable building design. The addition of Iain Macdonald is one more step toward putting mass timber on the map and Oregon as the go-to place for expertise and new products.”

The institute’s applied research on the strength and durability of mass timber products is key to widespread adoption of this technology. Data from product testing and development enables building code officials to modify rules to allow for mass timber buildings in the United States. Mass timber has been successfully used in Europe for over two decades.

“I’m excited to lead the TallWood Design Institute and partner with two outstanding universities,” said Macdonald, who played a key role in garnering support for UBC to build the world’s tallest timber structure in 2016, an 18-story student dormitory called Brock Commons. “We are conducting collaborative, world-class research that will advance solutions for designers, manufacturers and engineers of advanced wood structures and encourage the widespread adoption of tall wood buildings.”

The institute and its affiliated wood science, architecture and engineering faculty have already played a key role in developing market-ready mass timber products that are either being used, or will soon be used, in commercial projects.

"There is a lot of excitement around mass timber in the design community,” said Judith Sheine, head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture & Allied Arts. “But for mass timber to be fully embraced in the U.S., we need demonstration projects, performance testing, and new product development. The TallWood Design Institute is doing the kind of research needed to make it possible for design professionals to realize the potential of mass timber and to make it practical to use in a variety of project types."

Oregon State is one of only three locations in the world with a multi-chamber environmental conditioning system capable of conducting durability and advanced climate testing. The institute is equipped to perform structural, seismic, fire and acoustic testing on engineered wood products and their distinct components.

Currently, the institute is testing panels for the 12-story Framework project in Portland, one of two national winners of a U.S. Department of Agriculture mass timber design competition. It is also partnering with D.R. Johnson Wood Innovations to conduct fire and structural testing on cross-laminated timber panels and is working with Freres Lumber Company, Inc. of Lyons to create a new Mass Plywood Panel for structural applications in buildings.

On March 28, Mass Timber Conference delegates will visit Oregon State University to learn about the TallWood Design Institute and visit its extensive research and testing facilities. Representatives from Michael Green Architecture will be on hand to introduce the two innovative new wood buildings that are set to begin construction this spring - the A.A. Red Emerson Advanced Wood Processing Laboratory and the new Peavy Hall, future home to the OSU College of Forestry. Judith Sheine, Head, Department of Architecture at University of Oregon, will describe the design side of the TallWood initiative.
For more information about the TallWood Design Institute, please visit tallwoodinstitute.org.

The Oregon State University College of Forestry has been a world class center of teaching, learning and research for a century. It offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs in sustaining ecosystems, managing forests and manufacturing wood products; conducts basic and applied research on the nature and use of forests; and operates 14,000 acres of college forests.

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Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for WoodworkingNetwork.com, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.