What is the Tallwood Design Institute?

The TallWood Design Institute is a research collaborative among Oregon State University’s College of Forestry and College of Engineering and the University of Oregon’s College of Design. It was created to lead the advanced wood products conversation and become the nation’s hub for the development and deployment of innovative wood building materials, systems and solutions.

What does the Institute do?

The TallWood Design Institute brings together the strengths of premier wood science, architecture and engineering programs to advance the adoption of mass timber building materials and systems. The Institute advances this goal through applied research, product development and testing, educational programs and other outreach efforts.

The Institute conducts a wide range of research and testing activities related to the structural integrity, fire, durability, acoustic, and seismic performance of wood-based building products and systems as well as related materials and components such as adhesives and connectors.

Research also focuses on market and economic trends, manufacturing methods for mass timber products, lifecycle analysis, energy efficiency and indoor comfort aspects of wood and hybrid buildings.  In addition, the Institute is taking the lead in overcoming code barriers related to building with mass timber.  The Institute also develops integrated curriculum to train a new generation of architects, design engineers and manufacturers on advanced wood products.

How is the Institute unique from other research facilities?

The Tallwood Design Institute is the nation’s only multidisciplinary research collaborative that focuses exclusively on the advancement of structural wood products. Its deep expertise in forestry, wood-based materials, engineering and architecture allows for a 360-degree view of the entire advanced wood product supply chain – from forest to frame.

The Institute is equipped with some of the best and largest-scale facilities in the US for the structural testing of wood-based components and related connection systems, coatings and adhesives. It offers a range of structural testing capabilities, such as seismic, fire, durability and acoustic testing. As it relates to design innovation, the Institute leverages the expertise of the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts, which has a 30-year track record of leadership in sustainable design.

Other specific strengths include University of Oregon’s Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory, one of the nation’s premier research labs for energy efficiency,

Finally, it offers a range of services to support the design community and accelerate the adoption of mass timber products, including code compliance/validation, building certification and lifecycle testing. 

Who leads the Institute?

The Tallwood Design Institute (TDI) is led by Iain Macdonald.  Prior to taking the helm of the Institute, Macdonald spent ten years as the Managing Director of the internationally renowned Centre for Advanced Wood Processing at the University of British Columbia.  The CAWP serves as Canada’s leading resource for value-added wood products manufacturing.  It was influential in garnering support for UBC to build the world’s tallest timber structure known as Brock Commons, an 18-story student dormitory built in 2016.

While Iain Macdonald directs the Institute, it also receives leadership and direction from the Dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.  Judith Sheine, a Professor of Architecture at the University of Oregon College of Design and Director of Design for TDI, leads TDI's activities at the University of Oregon. 

What notable research has the Institute conducted for architects and design engineers so far?

The Tallwood Design Institute is a place where architects and design engineers can turn for answers about mass timber and advanced wood products.  The Institute has performed testing on cross-laminated timber used in several exemplary commercial development projects. Oregon State University researchers have tested panels used in Albina Yard, the first CLT commercial property developed in the U.S, and for the 12-story Framework project, one of two national winners of a U.S. Department of Agriculture mass timber design competition.  Both of these projects are located in Portland, Oregon.  The tests were conducted for building code officials and project developers to validate the safety of the building material.

Four research projects are currently underway that will provide valuable information to inform future building designs and building codes. These are on: behavior of CLT diaphragm panel to panel connections with self-tapping screws; CLT fastener solutions for tall wood buildings; fire performance of Douglas Fir CLT wall and floor assemblies made in Oregon, and; structural health monitoring and post-occupancy performance of mass timber buildings. A further round of projects will be approved in March 2017.

What notable research has the Institute conducted for manufacturers so far?

The Tallwood Design Institute has played a key role in developing market-ready mass timber products that are either being used, or will soon be used, in commercial projects. This includes working with Oregon-based D.R. Johnson Wood Innovations to support development of the first U.S. APA/ANSI certified structural cross-laminated timber panels.  Currently, the Institute is working with another Oregon firm, Freres Lumber Company, Inc., to create a new mass timber product called the Mass Plywood Panel. Our new A.A. Red Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Lab will include sophisticated computer-numerical control (CNC) and advanced robotic manufacturing equipment that will be accessible to industry for product development, testing and training purposes. 

Where does the Institute reside?

The Institute's administrative offices are located at the OSU College of Forestry.  Most of the research and testing will be conducted on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis, Oregon and its extended facilities.  The University of Oregon provides expertise in building design through its research team and faculty on its Eugene, Oregon campus.

How is it funded?

The Tallwood Design Institute is funded by the State of Oregon, federal grants and private contributions.  

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