Mass Timber Showcased in New Forest Supervisor’s Office in Kamiah.
Marisa Lloyd

Mass Timber Showcased in New Forest Supervisor’s Office in Kamiah.

U.S Forest Service

KAMIAH -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service relied on traditional and innovative wood products in the visionary construction of a new high-efficiency building in Kamiah, Idaho, slated to open ahead of schedule later this summer. The new supervisor’s office for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest features the latest in cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (glulam).

These innovative products are called “mass timber” and are made up of multiple individual layers of lumber that are glued together. It is the first Forest Service building to be made using CLT.

“Relying on mass timber meant a much faster build, and when you save time in construction, you save money. Using CLT for the roof structure was the fastest process I’ve ever seen installed by such a small crew. The roof was done in about three days,” says Nick Diggins, an architect at Mosaic Architecture, a former Marine who is used to keeping to tight schedules.

Joel Little, an architect with the Forest Service, says the glulam columns made the framing so efficient that the walls went up in a week and the framing “took one-tenth of the time in a similar-sized project.”

Diggins was also impressed by how intuitive the CLT install was, especially considering
it was the team’s first CLT project. Mass timber panels arrive onsite almost like a kit, strategically stacked for coordinated removal, placement, and assembly. Other factors that sped up the project included relying extensively on 3D modeling to revise designs precisely andefficiently.

The wood and decorative stone were sourced regionally. Using timber and other non-timber forest products from the region circulated funds back into the local economy. Local workers, including members of the Nez Perce Tribe, a federally recognized Tribal Nation with more than 3,500 citizens, were directly employed in construction.

The success of the Kamiah site is inspiring new projects. Little is working on a redesign for the Grangeville Air Center, about 30 miles south of Kamiah. “The U.S. Forest Service’s supervisor’s office in Kamiah is a great model for the rest of the Forest Service,” Little says.

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