Against the Grain: UI Students Create New Architecture With Wood Products

Thursday, December 5 2013

MOSCOW, Idaho – Taking inspiration from their own backyard, University of Idaho architecture students are finding new ways to use wood in architecture with the help of the Idaho Forest Products Commission’s Best Use of Idaho Wood Architecture Design Awards.

Winning designs will be recognized during a luncheon, featuring guest speakers architect Chris Patano and Kevin Esser, chief financial officer of Idaho Forest Group, on Monday, Dec. 9 at 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Idaho Commons Clearwater/Whitewater rooms.

Students, faculty, professional architects and members of the forest products industry are encouraged to attend the luncheon, where they’ll learn of the outcome of the competition. Awards include a $500 prize for first place and two additional $250 awards.

“During the project, the students were able to explore the woods and mills of North Idaho and apply their findings to a realistic design project, “ said Bruce Haglund, UI professor of architecture. “Overall, they've acquired new perspectives on wood as a building material and new skills in systems integration in design. We are grateful that IFPC and AIA Idaho have sponsored this invaluable experience.”

The competition was open to students in Haglund’s comprehensive graduate studio. They were challenged to develop a net-zero energy laboratory building constructed of wood for the UI campus. Students started with schematic design plans for the Integrated Research Innovation Center building developed by NBBJ Architects in Seattle. The firm shared digital drawings with students as their baseline design. Entrants were challenged to create buildable and conceptually strong designs that met the needs of the client. While wood is a common building element, students were encouraged to explore new, innovative ways in which to use it.

Part of the students’ experiences included outings to learn more about wood as a building material. They visited with professional foresters at the University of Idaho’s Experimental Forest for an up-close look at Idaho’s forests, the breadth of tree species in the woodlands and learned more about the role forestry plays in wood production. They also visited a sawmill in Grangeville to see the process of turning logs into lumber.

”It’s exciting to see University of Idaho architect students consider how to best use wood in their designs. It’s a great opportunity for them to take a closer look at a locally grown building material that’s sustainable, renewable and beautiful,” said Betty Munis, director of Idaho Forest Products Commission. “The students are truly inspiring and we’re honored to sponsor this project.”

The projects are being judged by a jury of experts from around the region: UI Professor Emeritus D. Nels Reese, forest industry representative Mike Boeck, and last year's IFPC/AIA professional competition winners architects Mark Pynn and Chris Patano. Students will have an opportunity to meet with the jurors and receive feedback on their projects.

About the University of Idaho
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