CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University (OSU) leaders announced an initiative earlier this month to construct a $60 million forestry complex. OSU officials hope the complex will accelerate the university’s forestry education programs, as well as its research on advanced wood products.
The future Oregon Forest Science Complex will include both new construction and renovation of existing space, showcasing innovative uses of wood in building design. It will also allow the College of Forestry to conduct research that will help meet the world’s growing demand for energy efficient, tall buildings made from sustainable building products, according to a statement by OSU.
“We are excited about leading a new national effort to advance the science and technology necessary to primarily use wood in the construction of 5- to 20-story buildings,” said Thomas Maness, dean of the OSU College of Forestry. “Developing these new, competitively priced, environmentally friendly products will not only increase the value of Oregon’s natural resources, but also grow jobs in our rural communities, with substantial benefits for our state.”
OSU is already a recognized leader in the development of adhesives and manufacturing techniques for engineered wood products. The Oregon Forest Science Complex, which is slated to include a new Advanced Wood Products Laboratory, will boost these applied research efforts. The laboratory, envisioned as a 25,000-square-foot space, will include computer controlled and robotic manufacturing systems, plus a pilot plant designed as a learning laboratory for students.
Peavy Hall, the College of Forestry’s main academic building, will also undergo a renovation, transforming it into a real life example of the possibilities offered by advanced wood products.
“In addition to concerns about sustainability, there is a lot of interest in engineered wood construction because these spaces are beautiful, very inviting and healthy places to live and work,” Maness said. “We want to show what you can do, and create a place that will be inspiring to our students as well as industry representatives.”
Enrollment at the School of Forestry, both on the undergraduate and graduate levels, has been steadily increasing in recent years, nearly doubling in the past decade to approximately 1,000 students. Bolstered by the new Oregon Forest Science Complex, the university hopes to push enrollment to 2,000 to meet high demand for qualified forestry professionals.
“Sometimes people think that forestry was important for Oregon’s past but don’t realize that it remains critical to our economy today, and may become even more important in the future,” said OSU President Ed Ray in a statement. “We are very proud of OSU’s contributions to the sector and are eager to build on this rich heritage, carrying out our mission as a 21st century land grant university.”
The university hopes to raise $30 million for construction costs related to the complex, after which it will also seek matching bonds from the state. Bonding for the project was included in the governor’s capital budget for consideration in the current legislative session.