REX NELSON: Using Arkansas Wood

I watch students give presentations at an event sponsored by the McMillon Innovation Studio at the University of Arkansas. It’s called Demo Day, time well spent as I work on a column about the thriving startup culture in Northwest Arkansas.

But I am especially intrigued on this Wednesday afternoon by the place where the Demo Day is held.

Adohi Hall on the Fayetteville campus is something special. At its heart, it is a university residence. The buildings also serve as a test site for researchers studying the innovative use of cross-laminated timber panels. The hope is that the success of this project will encourage the future use of these materials across the country, revitalizing Arkansas’ lumber industry.

UA professors received a $100,000 grant from the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities to measure the moisture content of the panels. The Principal Investigator is Tahar Messadi, who holds the 21st Century Chair in Sustainability at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

Two five-storey residential buildings are connected by a third building which provides a common space. The 202,000 square foot project with 708 beds cost $79 million. The students moved in ahead of the fall 2019 semester. Adohi is the country’s first large-scale solid wood residence hall.

Adohi is a Cherokee word for “wood”. It was chosen because of the heavy use of wood in the design and to honor the natives who passed through this area on the Trail of Tears.

CLT panels consist of multiple layers of kiln-dried wooden planks stacked with the grain of the wood running in alternating directions. The layers are bonded with structural adhesives and pressed together to form a strong, straight, rectangular panel. An odd number of layers form each panel. The residence was built with five-layer panels.

According to the Fay Jones School: “Finished CLT panels are lightweight yet strong, and they offer superior acoustic, fire, seismic and thermal performance. These pre-fabricated wood panels are also quick and easy to install and generate almost no waste. on the construction site.This durable and economical alternative to other structural materials also offers a significantly lower carbon footprint.

“In this residence, CLT panels are only used for the floors and ceilings. The columns and beams are made of glued laminated pieces, which are glued with the wood grain of each layer parallel rather than perpendicular, like the make CLT panels.Researchers focus on studying moisture in CLT panels because, just as rain-soaked tree branches become limp and sag, wood that is too wet loses its rigidity and becomes weak. The wood is also susceptible to mold and fungus, and its moisture could cause the steel connections to rust.”

“The humidity can be very low in one place, but it can be high in another,” says Messadi. “You want to track this in order to understand the range of humidity fluctuations. Our goal is to know if a stable reading is being maintained. Once we look at this data, we will then understand the type of remedies that we can put in place. forward to ensure that the CLT behaves in the right way and in the right frame, according to the newly developed standards.”

The emphasis on mass timber is part of an effort by Peter MacKeith, Dean of the Fay Jones School, to find other uses for Arkansas timber. MacKeith’s initiatives are the focus of today’s Perspective coverage. Arkansas, which is 56% forested, produces timber much faster than it can be harvested. New uses are needed.

“Mass timber is attractive because durability is a growing issue in the construction industry,” says Cameron Murray, assistant professor of civil engineering at UA. “Concrete and Portland cement are harmful to the environment. They can release a lot of carbon dioxide, whereas wood is a renewable resource. In Arkansas we have an underutilized lumber industry, so it’s a potential opportunity to make signs here or sell our wood to places that make signs.”

The university will take its efforts to the next level when the Anthony Timberlands Center for Materials Design and Innovation is completed. It will serve as a regional center for research and development of wood products and advanced approaches to sustainable building materials.

Following an international competition which attracted 100 submissions, Grafton Architects of Dublin, Ireland were commissioned to design the center in consultation with Modus Studio of Fayetteville.

The project moved forward after a $7.5 million donation in 2018 from Anthony Timberlands, which operates in southern Arkansas.

“Getting to know the whole Anthony family has been a transformative experience for me,” MacKeith said. “Their in-depth knowledge of Arkansas forests is rooted in the lives of their ancestors and in communities throughout southern Arkansas. They can speak of the virtues of native loblolly pine and shortleaf pine, as well as hardwoods who thrive in the lowlands. They have an environmental, economic and social perspective.”

The first sawmills of the Anthony family were mobile entities. Once the trees in a certain area were cut, the mills moved. Garland Anthony operated its first mill in 1907 near Bearden. He moved throughout the region over the next twelve years.

Anthony Brothers Lumber Co. was formed by four brothers in the 1920s in Calhoun County. Brothers Will, Oliver, Garland and Frank owned it. Frank and Will then established their own mills, with Will in the Murfreesboro area and Frank in Union County.

Garland, meanwhile, has partnerships in southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana and eastern Texas. Garland’s son, Ted, died suddenly in 1961. Ted’s son, John Ed, then took over the reins, followed by John Ed’s son, Steve.

John Ed Anthony formed Anthony Timberlands in 1974 as the Bearden-based management company for all mills. These include pine sawmills, hardwood sawmills, a hardwood flooring plant, a wood treating facility, and a hardwood carpet manufacturing plant. The company owns over 200,000 acres of timberland and has over 1,000 employees.

“Given the importance of the forest industry in Arkansas, our flagship university should be a leader in the manufacture of these products,” says John Ed Anthony. “It is sure to be a successful endeavor due to the merit of these renewable and eco-friendly components. We would like our university to be at the forefront of this. Breaking into a major market is an important task. But with CLT and other concepts, years of construction can be reduced to months.”

The Fay Jones School says the Anthony Timberlands Center will serve as the home of the school’s “wood and wood graduate program” and as the epicenter of the school’s multiple wood and wood initiatives. drink. It will also house the existing design-build program and digital fabrication lab. , as well as a new center for applied research in wood design and innovation.”

“As an architect, Fay Jones taught us that a two-by-four is so much more than just a two-by-four,” MacKeith tells me. “A school of architecture can be so much more than a school of architecture. A college can be so much more than a university. We can play a part in making the forests of Arkansas much more valuable. Many of our students come from small towns in the forests of Arkansas. We don’t want them to apologize for that. We want them to be able to go back to those towns and capitalize on what they’ve learned here.

“We know that lean manufacturing can dramatically increase the value of our Arkansas forests. We know that affordable homes can be built from solid wood. in these areas. We are in the middle of the forest area. We are perfectly located logistically. Let’s take advantage of it.


Rex Nelson is editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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