The Oregon State University College of Forestry is moving ahead with plans for a new $60 million forest science complex to expand classroom, office and lab space and position the college as a leader in advanced wood products engineering.

Focused on the emerging field of high-rise construction using engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timbers, the initiative first was unveiled early last year, but Dean Thomas Maness announced new details of the college’s plans Tuesday morning at the Oregon Business Plan conference in Portland.

Maness said preliminary designs are complete for the Oregon Forest Science Complex, which will consist of two buildings: the Advanced Wood Products Laboratory, an 18,000-square-foot pilot plant for testing and developing new engineered wood products; and a 90,000-square-foot classroom and office building that will replace Peavy Hall as the college’s academic nerve center.

The governor’s budget proposal includes approval for state bonds to cover half the project’s costs, with the rest of the money to come from donors to the OSU Foundation.

“We have launched a private fundraising campaign, and we have moved significantly toward our goal,” Maness said.
If the funding comes together as hoped, Maness said, the new lab could open sometime next year, followed by the classroom building in fall 2017.

Peavy Hall, at the corner of Southwest 30th Street and Jefferson Way, has been the home of the College of Forestry since it opened in 1971. At 84,000 square feet, it’s not much smaller than the structure intended to replace it, Maness acknowledged, and its attractively landscaped central courtyard has been a landmark for generations of students.

But he said the new building would have three stories of modern, flexible classroom space that will better serve the needs of the college’s burgeoning enrollment, which has nearly doubled over the past decade to about 1,000 students and is expected to double again in response to high demand for trained forestry professionals.

The Advanced Wood Products Laboratory most likely will be built on vacant land on Jefferson Way just west of Richardson Hall, which also is part of the College of Forestry.

“We’re thinking of putting a new facade on Richardson so it looks like one building instead of three,” Maness said.

The new buildings will be designed by architect Michael Green of Vancouver, B.C., and the Seattle firm of Miller Hull, both leaders in the new wood-framed skyscraper movement, and both will showcase innovative engineered wood products in their construction.

The initiative also includes a partnership with the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts, which will share space in the new Oregon Forest Science Complex.

“The facility is going to be located on Oregon State University’s campus, but it’s going to house faculty, staff and students from the University of Oregon as well,” Maness said. “It’s very much a joint program.”

The planned development represents a significant shift for the College of Forestry but it also will build on the program’s long tradition, promised Maness, who succeeded longtime Dean Hal Salwasser as head of the college in mid-2012.

“The college is going to stay true to its roots in the forestry area,” he said. “In the wood products area, I think this represents an integration of architecture, design, engineering and wood products. In that sense, I think it is a makeover of how we think of wood products in the future.”