About 50 timber industry representatives, state lawmakers and other interested parties toured the George W. Peavy Forest Science Center under construction at Oregon State University on Friday as part of a daylong “fact-finding” trip sponsored by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute.

The three-story, 80,000-square-foot Peavy Forest Science Center, scheduled for completion next fall, is the centerpiece of the new Oregon Forest Science Complex being built on the Corvallis campus.

Peavy is intended to be a showcase for the Oregon wood products industry and especially the state’s expertise in producing cross-laminated timber, mass plywood panels and other innovative engineered wood products for use as structural elements in building construction.

In March, however, two layers of a massive 4-foot-by-20-foot cross-laminated timber panel delaminated and fell to the floor. No one was hurt in the incident, but it caused construction delays and raised questions about the reliability of CLT and other types of mass timber technology.

The problem was traced to a manufacturing glitch which has since been corrected, and installation of CLT panels at Peavy resumed.

During Friday’s tour, OSU officials once again expressed their confidence in the new engineered wood products the university is helping to develop.

“Oregon is perfectly positioned in global markets to compete effectively in mass timber products and mass timber buildings,” said Geoff Huntington, director of strategic initiatives for the OSU College of Forestry.

All of the wood products going into the Peavy Forest Science Center are sourced from within 300 miles of Corvallis, he noted, as is the wood that went into manufacturing them.

Matt Sherman of Andersen Construction, the general contractor on the Peavy project, pointed out a number of design innovations being incorporated into the building, from hydronic heating and cooling systems built into the flooring to rocking CLT shear walls designed to snap back into place after an earthquake.

Kristin Slavin, an architect who helped design Carbon12, an eight-story CLT building in Portland, said she’s sold on the virtues of mass timber technology. While the panel failure at Peavy was a bit of a speed bump for the industry, she said, she’s fully satisfied that the manufacturing issues have been addressed.

Any mass timber product used in the United States, she pointed out, has to meet strict national performance standards.

“It’s required to go through fire testing and water testing,” she said. “All the glues have to go through the same structural testing as the wood.”

Mike Cloughesy of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, which sponsored the tour, admitted that the incident with the delaminated CLT panel caused him some consternation at first, but he said the mass timber industry has scarcely skipped a beat.

“I think this is the future — and I’m so excited to be a part of it,” he said.

“I’ve been in the wood business 40 years, and I’ve learned more in the last five than the first 35.”

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Reporter Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.


Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald