OSU celebrates opening of advanced wood products lab

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University College of Forestry celebrated the grand opening on Thursday of its A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory, a facility dedicated to furthering research and collaboration in the timber design, engineering, fabrication and construction sectors.

The 17,500-square-foot lab is part of the Oregon Forest Science Complex on OSU’s Corvallis campus and is the new home of the TallWood Design Institute, an interdisciplinary partnership between OSU’s colleges of Forestry and Engineering and the University of Oregon’s College of Design. TallWood’s focus is the advancement of structural wood products and mass timber design in constructing high-rise and other multistory buildings.

“The institute has close links with Oregon’s manufacturing community, and we are proud to have worked with both of the state’s mass timber producers, DR Johnson and Freres Lumber, during their product development efforts,” said TallWood Design Institute Director Iain Macdonald. “We have also been able to conduct structural, fire, acoustic and durability testing for many of the mass timber building projects that have taken shape around Oregon and beyond.”

The grand opening featured live demonstrations of state-of-the art manufacturing equipment, including a Kuka robot milling cell, tours of the laboratory and remarks from U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Interim Forestry Dean Anthony S. Davis.

“This facility tells the story of the evolution of mass timber here in Oregon,” Merkley said. “It’s the culmination of a lot of work and a foundation for an extraordinary future for products that are sustainable, for new and different designs, so we can take Oregon trees and ship these engineered products all around the world to further strengthen Oregon’s economy.”

The college broke ground in October 2016 on the 95,000-square-foot forest science complex that will also include the George W. Peavy Forest Science Center, scheduled to open in the spring of 2020. The complex showcases innovative uses for wood in building construction and design, including advanced wood products such as cross-laminated timber.

“Wood is the only primary building material we can grow, and its effective use has to be a cornerstone in mounting an aggressive front in challenging our sustainability and climate crises,” Davis said. “Oregon is blessed with having some of the most productive and diverse forests in the world. Because of this, we are better positioned than anyone else to serve as a bridge between our natural resources and meeting the demands of urban growth and renewal, while also continuing to conserve habitat and provide recreational access.”

The new buildings will serve a growing student population and meet the research needs of people working throughout the state and region toward creating healthy forests, ecosystems and communities. In the last decade, the college has steadily increased its enrollment of undergraduate and graduate students.

Red Emmerson and his father, R.H. “Curly” Emmerson, were the founders of Sierra Pacific Industries, one of the largest lumber producers in the United States. The company donated $6 million toward the construction of the complex.

Red Emmerson’s sons, George Emmerson, who graduated from Oregon State in 1978, and Mark Emmerson lead the company as president and chairman/chief financial officer, respectively. Their sister Carolyn Emmerson Dietz, a 1982 OSU graduate, is president of the Sierra Pacific Foundation.

Michael Green Architecture, an innovator in high-rise wood construction, designed the $79.5 million forest science complex, funded by public and private dollars.

“These new facilities represent a critical step in the pathway towards using renewable materials in new ways,” Davis said. “Our mission is to use this space as a model of how we can pair Oregon’s intellectual capacity with our natural resources and capitalize on our spirit of innovation. Today, we are better equipped than ever before to welcome the challenge to elevate advanced wood products for diverse use, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity this amazing new lab presents us with.”