Chris Gerding and Melissa Harmon were thrilled to travel to Portland Oregon for the 2023 International Mass Timber Conference, produced by Forest Business Network and WoodWorks. HFA has been working with mass timber for many years now and we are very excited to continue our education and experience with this sustainable and beautiful construction material.
The first day of the conference began with two tours, both consisting of three different stops. Melissa stayed in Portland, where she got to see a few timber building examples, from fabrication to final completion, though not in that order.
First stop, a construction tour of the new headquarters for the digital agency, Thesis. This is a 40,000 sf mass timber structure utilizing CLT floors and glulam beams and columns. The team presented aspects of the successful design and construction of this beautiful project. Seeing details on paper and in the field, and hearing explanations of why each decision was made was very helpful.
Next, she toured the PAE Living Building, which is Portland’s First Living Building, completed in 2022. The building was designed using CLT and glulam beams and columns to last 500 years! Members of the design team shared technical presentations on this fascinating net-zero water and net-zero energy building of the future.
Last, she got a glimpse into the process that takes place after a design leaves the engineer’s desk, but before it reaches the trailer. Timberlab Fabrication Facility provided a presentation on how much preconstruction planning is done prior to cutting the first piece of timber. Animated models showing the manufacturer process helps determine the most efficient methods for making the precision cuts required. This can reduce seconds per cut off their fabrication, which adds up to significant time over the extent of an entire building. She also learned about the various machines showing the precision cutting of the members.
Not to be outdone, Chris traveled to Eugene, for another set of tours.
At the University of Oregon, he had the chance to see the new renovation for Hayward Field, which will now hold 12,500 spectators for track and field events. This project extends the life of a field which has hosted US Olympic Team Trials and other prominent events, but which lacked state of the art facilities and basic ADA compliance. The main features of the new structure are the exposed Douglas Fir glulam fins behaving compositely with structural steel to support the canopy structure. Each fin has its own unique curvature consisting of six individual glulam sections.
Next, he traveled to the Farmer’s Market Pavilion, an 8,500 square foot mass timber structure consisting of CLT roof panels and shear walls with glulam beams and columns. This is a multi-purpose venue with roll-up doors to host the local farmers market on the weekends and is available to rent for other events.
The final stop was the Zip-O-Laminators Manufacturing Facility, which manufacturers custom glulam products. They have gained recognition as the manufacturer of the new 9-acre mass timber roof at Portland’s airport (PDX) which features exposed long-span glulam arches which undulate across the terminal. The tour showed the entire glulam manufacturing process, including the quality control measures taken by the manufacturer to ensure proper fit and seamless construction.
The next two days of the conference included various educational presentations explaining various topics, including how timber is manufactured, carbon accounting, optimizing design, interacting with building officials, avoiding on-site delays and disruptions, and the future of wood. In addition to the lectures, construction demonstrations were conducted in the showroom using various types of mass timber construction installation.
The showroom was an amazing display of all things related to mass timber! Manufacturers for the timber products, as well as connections and sealers, were impressive, and it was truly an amazing place to return to between lectures and networking. The entire event was a positive atmosphere for the building construction industry to learn about and celebrate mass timber materials.
Thank you to Forest Business Network and Woodworks for hosting an exceptional event!