Auburn hosting award-winning architect for talk about building wood high-rises Oct. 4

Published: September 28, 2017
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Can a high-rise building be made of wood?

Auburn University will host an award-winning architect to answer that question during a seminar, "Future of Tall: Building a Wood High-Rise in the U.S.," on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 2 p.m. at Auburn’s Telfair B. Peet Theatre. The public seminar and reception will feature Thomas Robinson, accomplished architect and founder of the Portland, Oregon-based international architectural firm, LEVER Architecture.

Robinson will share how the use of cross-laminated timber, or CLT, is revolutionizing sustainable construction with details about his firm’s pioneering use of CLT in "Framework"—a Portland construction project slated to become the first mass timber high-rise in the U.S.

"CLT features a unique layered engineering which gives it steel-like strength, and it’s light, easy to assemble, sustainable, fire resistant and cost effective; making it ideal for commercial construction," said Janaki Alavalapati, dean of Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. "CLT offers the structural simplicity needed for cost-effective buildings, as well as benefits such as fast installation, reduced waste, improved thermal performance and design versatility."

The public, faculty and students are invited to attend the seminar and reception which is hosted by the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences in partnership with the Office of Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Facilities Management, Office of Sustainability, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, and Architecture, Design and Construction.

"As we are witnessing in commercial construction, environmental concerns and evolving technologies are moving companies toward the use of sustainable forest biomaterial," said Auburn Regions Professor of Forest Products Brian Via. "Forest biomass is being used for everything from packaging, cosmetics and automobiles to appliances and pharmaceuticals."

Alabama’s forest production and processing industry contributes nearly $21 billion to the state’s economy and positions it to be a leader in the development of a sustainable bio-based economy that includes wood processing, construction, chemicals and energy, bioplastics, and packaging. With several other wood related industries on the horizon, its impact on the state’s economy is expected to be significant.

Prior to the seminar, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has invited industry stakeholders, researchers and students to participate in a panel discussion and luncheon titled "Moving toward a Sustainable Bio-based Economy." Auburn faculty will guide academic and industry panelists in discussion about research and development of forest bio-based products such as cross-laminated timber and structural products, bio-energy and chemicals, nanocellulose and packaging.

These developments are increasing the demand for professionals with diverse expertise in biomass production and operational logistics; conversion processes of products and packaging; and product development, sustainability and business.

To meet this need, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences in collaboration with the colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Business and Architecture, Design, and Construction have developed a new undergraduate degree program at Auburn in sustainable biomaterials and packaging.

One of the only programs of its kind in the Southeast, this interdisciplinary program will provide students with knowledge, expertise and hands-on experience to prepare them for careers in the emerging bio-based industry that seeks more sustainable and economical alternatives to a petroleum based market.

Pending approval by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, it is anticipated the new degree will begin enrollment in the fall 2018. The degree was approved by the Auburn Board of Trustees in September.

In addition to many Auburn colleges and administrative units, the luncheon and seminar are sponsored by Regions Bank, Dixon-Moody Timber Group and Chirpwood Frames of East Alabama, International Beams, Forest Investment Associates, Timber Products Inspection, the Alabama Forestry Association and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee of Alabama.

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The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences is a flagship institution for natural resources-based degrees including natural resource management, geospatial and environmental informatics, and sustainable biomaterials and packaging. The school is also the backbone to Alabama's $22 billion forest, wildlife and natural resources industry. Its mission is to create future professionals and leaders and to develop new knowledge and science-based solutions and share them with individuals, families, communities and industries so they can make informed decisions to advance their business and well-being.