A lesson in forest science

by Ofentse Sefolo
A lesson in forest science

Michael Green Architecture completed two new massive timber buildings for the internationally recognised College of Forestry at Oregon State University. Located on the campus within the Oregon Forest Science Complex (OFSC), the new George W Peavy Forest Science Centre and the A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory (AWP) recently celebrated the opening of this unique centre, costing $79,5 million because of a public-private partnership that brought together four lead donors.

Both buildings have been designed to uphold the college’s vision to create a dynamic learning, collaborative and research environment for managing and sustaining working forest ecosystems in the 21st century.

The project design approach was created in collaboration with multiple college departments and user groups across various functions, including resource management, ecosystems and society, and science and engineering. Engagement with these unique and diverse groups meant that the buildings themselves were designed to be teachers and a living laboratory – something to interact with and to learn from.

Treetop teaching
The new George W Peavy Forest Science Centre at 7 711m² is connected to the complex in natural layers, systems and networks of a forest, from soil to sky.

The building is designed as two intersecting bars, connected to the existing Richardson Hall. A simple academic bar features 20 classrooms, computer rooms and laboratories. Classroom and lab spaces range from small to large and interior to exterior, facilitating a range of teaching styles in an inspiring environment for students to study all aspects of the forest landscape. Timber stairwells filled with natural light flank both ends of the academic corridor to connect the landscape and enhance intuitive wayfinding.

At the heart of Peavy is the Roseburg Forest Products Atrium. Shaped by towering two-storey Douglas-fir columns, this expansive space captures the feeling of being in the forest. The atrium is directly connected to the Peavy Arboretum, a curated collection of local plant species that acts as a living classroom for forestry students, the community and the industry. The edge between the building and the adjacent arboretum is blurred to remind students at the faculty of their unique and critical role as environmental stewards.

The Roseburg Forest Products Atrium within the PFSC features stairs made of recycled glulam beams from the former Peavy Hall.

Peavy includes several informal learning spaces, including the third-floor area located outside of The Wollenberg Foundation Dean’s Suite. This space provides opportunities for students, the faculty and staff to collaborate, study and teach in a relaxed setting among the treetops.

Moving walls
A CLT rocking wall system, the first of its kind in North America, was developed with shear walls composed of separate sections connected vertically by a post-tension system. This allows the walls to move and self-centre during an event, and for components to be selectively replaced on an as-needed basis after the event occurred.

As part of the building-as-a-teacher concept, the wood structure is monitored by over 200 sensors that have been installed throughout the structure to gather data on vertical and horizontal structural movement as well as moisture. This data will be used for research about the performance of mass timber structures for the life of the building, and will inform the future of good practice in building with mass timber.

Project overview
George W Peavy Forest Science Centre (PFSC).
Opened: March 2020.
Size: Approx. 7 711m².
Features: Seven classrooms, six meeting rooms, two computer classrooms, offices, laboratories, an outdoor arboretum, formal and informal learning spaces, graduate student workspaces, numerous quiet areas, constructed with glulam, cross-laminated timber (CLT) and mass plywood panels (MPP).

For more information on this remarkable project, visit www.forestry.oregonstate.edu/ofsc.

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