College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; College of Architecture, Art and Construction

Clemson’s WU+D Institute hosts workshop highlighting the benefits of building with wood


Architecture faculty from across the U.S. gained a deeper understanding of the critical role timber building systems can play in decarbonizing the environment during a two-and-a-half-day immersive Timber Design Faculty Development Workshop hosted May 20- 22 by the Clemson University Wood Utilization + Design Institute and Clemson’s School of Architecture.

The workshop — which was sponsored by the Softwood Lumber Board and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities — brought participants and speakers from 22 different colleges and universities to Clemson to learn about mass timber design and building, and strategies for incorporating the subject matter into their teaching, research,  outreach and practice.

Conference participants sitting at tables listing to a presentation.
The conference was highlighted by a number of presentations.

“I’m really pleased that we were able to welcome this enthusiastic and collegial group of faculty. It was great to get to know everyone and learn more about their respective architecture programs and how the contents of this workshop might start to map onto their own courses and studies to impact students and industry,” said Dustin Albright, assistant director of Clemson’s School of Architecture.

The workshop was highlighted by tours of the Clemson Experimental Forest, two campus buildings built with mass timber and a hands-on look at ongoing research being conducted at Clemson’s Built Environment Lab (BEL).

Presentation topics included an overview of mass timber building systems, strategies for teaching timber in a studio setting, sustainable forestry practices, timber design/build education and collaborative research. Presenters included:

  • Dustin Albright, associate professor of architecture, Clemson University
  • Patricia Layton, director emeritus, WU+D Institute, Clemson University
  • Weichiang Pang, professor of civil engineering, Clemson University
  • Michael Stoner, lecturer of civil engineering, Clemson University
  • Jason Griffiths, associate professor of architecture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • James Michael Tate, associate professor of architecture, Texas A&M University
  • Jessica Scarlett WoodWorks, regional director

While at the BEL lab, workshop attendees were able to see and learn from several ongoing projects. This included the structural connection details and acoustic performance testing for a long-spanning, composite timber floor system which is being designed for building systems integration and minimum carbon footprint.

“The workshop was a great opportunity to learn about innovative timber design research and teaching and to spend time with faculty from around the country exchanging ideas for the future direction of our work. Clemson provided a particularly valuable setting, having their own experimental forest and close ties to a regional industry. This allowed us to see first-hand anything from how timber is grown and harvested, to testing facilities, construction projects and studio work,” said Michelle Laboy, associate professor, Northeastern University School of Architecture.

Conference participants wearing hardhats touring Clemson building with wood construction.
The conference featured tours of Clemson facilities built with wood.

Since its inception in 2014, the WU+D Institute has combined Clemson’s expertise in forestry, architecture, construction science and civil Engineering to innovate and advocate for the expanded use of engineered sustainable wood-based materials, such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), in a commercial construction market dominated by steel and concrete.

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