The University of Oregon College of Design offers unique studio courses focusing on the design of mass timber structures. These are playing a valuable role in enhancing the knowledge of the next generation of architects on mass timber structures, as well as serving as feasibility studies and catalyzing real construction projects in Oregon and beyond. A few of the studios are profiled below. Check back soon for images of these projects.

Springfield Parking Garage 2015

This project was the result of a collaboration between the City of Springfield, Oregon and the University of Oregon Department of Architecture. Springfield had been planning a new mixed-use urban development in the Glenwood neighborhood as a public-private partnership and, as part of the infrastructure, the city is contributing a parking structure. Given the long history of timber manufacturing as central to the city’s economy and the interest in Oregon in renewing the timber economy with advanced timber products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), Mayor Christine Lundberg thought that the new parking structure should be a signature demonstration project constructed of mass timber. Due to the UO Department of Architecture’s expertise in sustainable mass timber design, in January 2015, Springfield City Manager Jeffrey Towery and Economic Development staff member Courtney Greisel contracted with the Department to explore the possibility of making this idea a reality in a faculty-led design studio in Spring 2015. 

Professor Judith Sheine and then Assistant Professor Mark Donofrio (now Associate Professor) realized that this project would be a challenge. There were very limited examples of existing mass timber parking structures and none in seismic zones. The contract with Springfield allowed for expert consultants to help with the studio: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Professor of Civil Engineering Mikhail Gershfeld provided critical assistance with bringing new mass timber lateral-force resisting systems to the studio; architect Samir Mokashi of Codes Unlimited assisted us with understanding how mass timber was understood in the current building code and the soon to be adopted ICC 2015; Oregon State University Associate Professor of Wood Science and Engineering Lech Muszynski gave us insight into CLT manufacturing; and Valerie Johnson and John Redfield  of DR Johnson in Riddle, Oregon, gave us access to their new CLT production facilities and insights into the new product.

The New Mill Mass Timber Parking Structure The Loom mass timber parking structureMass timber garage rendering

The studio’s 26 graduate and undergraduate students were divided into nine teams; each produced a design, showing Springfield a variety of ways that the approximately 400-car parking garage could be constructed with mass timber. The student designs convinced the city that this could be a real project and, taking ideas from the studio, they are working with architects SRG Partnership and KPFF Consulting Engineers to develop the design now planned for Glenwood. A research team from Oregon State University Department of Wood Science and Engineering and the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering are now working with City of Springfield to help address moisture-related durability questions that will inform the final material and construction specifications for the parking deck itself.

Hayward Field West Grandstands Studio - 2017

Historic Hayward Field has been a central part of the University of Oregon’s history since it’s founding in 1919, when it was named after UO athlete and coach Bill Hayward. The East Grandstands were completed in 1925 and Olympic tryouts were first held there in 1944. The NCAA championships were first hosted there in 1962, to be followed over the years by numerous national and international track and field meets. The 1970s saw some of the legendary events at Hayward, including the feats of Steve Prefontaine. In 1975 the West Grandstand was completed. Renovations were made in 1988, which included enlarging the track, and the Bowerman Family Building was completed in 1992.

Hayward Field is also central to the origins of Nike. Legendary UO athlete and coach Bill Bowerman invented the modern running shoe while coaching the UO track and field team. Phil Knight was the first UO student athlete to try the shoes, in 1958, and later co-founded Blue Ribbon Sports with Bowerman in 1964, which officially became Nike in 1971.

 As Vin Lananna, UO’s Associate Athletic Director noted, "Hayward Field is unparalleled in importance to the sport of track and field and the entire state of Oregon. Recognized everywhere for inspiring world-class performances, this special stadium is also the dream destination for boys and girls just beginning in the sport, high school and collegiate athletes at the pinnacle of their career and the casual runner motivated to improve fitness.”

As significant as Hayward Field is to track and field, the timber industry is at least as central to the history of the state of Oregon and the founding of the University of Oregon. While the timber industry faced a serious decline in the 1970s, recently, with the development of new advanced engineered wood products, including cross-laminated timber and mass plywood panels, Oregon is poised to once again lead the United States in timber manufacturing and design. It seems fitting that the new, expanded West Grandstands at Hayward Field should be constructed of mass timber, as a showcase for the potential of these new materials. With its structure of mass timber, the West Grandstand has the potential to become iconic, with international recognition, in both the worlds of sports and design.


This studio took on the challenge of designing large cantilevers in timber. With studio instructor UO Department of Architecture Professor Judith Sheine, four teams of students worked on widely varied designs. The studio was given significant and critical consulting by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Department of Civil Engineering Professor Mikhail Gershfeld and his Advanced Timber Design class. Gershfeld visited the studio in person six times, with an additional virtual meeting; His engineering students worked in four teams collaboratively with the architecture students through virtual communication.

The studio took the new plans for the West Grandstand that UO had developed with SRG Partnership as its starting point. Those plans include incorporating indoor training facilities and the Physiology Department, currently in the Bowerman Family Building, under the grandstand seating. Rather than focusing on the program, the studio accepted the plans as developed and focused on the design of the canopy over the west grandstand seating. The term began with case studies of recent timber grandstands and stadia, which gave the students some ideas about the range of possible design solutions. After a week or so of experimentation, four projects emerged: three cantilevers and one very large arch. The studio received generous support from Jim and Diane Hallstrom, a family long involved in timber manufacturing in Oregon.

Lane County Courthouse - 2017

Timber manufacturing has had a long and significant history in Lane County. When planning for a new County Courthouse in downtown Eugene, Intergovernmental Relations Manager Alex Cuyler and Economic Development Manager Sarah Means thought that this new civic structure could serve as a model building to promote the manufacture and adoption of mass timber building products in the County. They knew that the University of Oregon’s Department of Architecture had worked with the City of Springfield to produce demonstration designs for their new mass timber parking structure, so they approached the Department about creating designs that could demonstrate the possibilities for mass timber construction for this significant public building and contracted for a Fall 2017 faculty-led studio focused on this project.

Professor Judith Sheine and Associate Professor Mark Donofrio took on the challenge of having 19 architecture students working in five teams to design a large (250,000 square feet) and complex building combining courthouse functions with offices for the Sherriff’s Department, the District Attorney, and some state divisions. The studio worked closely with Lane County Capital Projects Manager Brian Craner and Court Administrator Elizabeth Rambo to understand the vision of the County for the new building as well as the functional requirements, and the Lane County funding provided for critical external consultants. To understand courthouse design, the studio had presentations from architects with considerable experience with this building type: Dennis McFadden, FAIA; from SRG Partnership, Kent Duffy, Bjorn Clouten and Steven Simpson; from Hennebery Eddy, Alan Osbourne; and from DLR Group, Tim Ganey, Kent Larson, Bill Valdez and Carla Weinheimer. Samir Mokashi and Franklin Callfas of Codes Unlimited provided advice on building code issues and UO’s Department of Architecture’s Energy Studies in Building Laboratory consulted with the student teams on issues of energy use, natural ventilation and daylighting. As mass timber design was central to Lane County’s interest in this project, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Professor of Civil Engineering Mikhail Gershfeld provided expert consulting on the mass timber structural systems for the building designs.

The Nest mass timber design for Lane County Courthouse

Lane County Courthouse mass timber design 2

Lane County Courthouse studio poster







During the fall term, the student work was reviewed by the architect consultants and by Lane County officials, members of the judiciary and Sheriff’s and D.A’s offices, and staff who would be working in the new building. The five student teams produced widely varied designs, giving the County many new ideas about how to think about organizing and designing the new building and employing mass timber in visible and dramatic new ways. The studio work will be used by the County to help the public, architects and County administrators envision this new civic building in Eugene.