Engineered Wood Means Design Flexibility

With the capabilities to span long distances and support increasingly higher heights, engineered wood and wood structural panels deliver performance and versatility alongside familiarity, availability, and affordability for a variety of commercial construction projects. Read on for some of our favorite projects.

Glulam at Lemay Car MuseumLeMay Museum, Tacoma, WA

When entering the exhibit hall at the LeMay Museum in Tacoma, Washington, visitors may find themselves gazing up at the ceiling as well as taking in the lines of gleaming classic cars. A soaring roof system made with curved glulam beams offers a striking sense of grandeur while simultaneously lending a warm, grounded aesthetic to the vast space.

Nicknamed “America’s Car Museum,” the 165,000-square-foot facility was created to celebrate America’s love affair with the automobile. Across its 4-story, 9-acre campus, the museum exhibits hundreds of cars, trucks, and motorcycles from private owners and corporations—not to mention the expansive Harold LeMay collection itself, from a 1906 Cadillac Model M to a 1965 Lotus racecar to a 1983 DeLorean DMC 12, as well as rotating season exhibitions.

Along with displaying some of the world’s most awe-inspiring vehicles, the museum serves as a gathering place for car enthusiasts, with meeting spaces, a membership club, a show field and an educational center.

To learn more about the LeMay Museum, download APA Case Study: LeMay — America's Car Museum, Form N115.

Westend ApartmentsWestend Garden Apartments, Denver, CO

Along the banks of the South Platte River, this wood-framed "garden apartment" complex is a natural oasis in the urban core of Denver, Colorado. The Westend project takes advantage of the flexibility of engineered wood products to create a vibrant, contemporary facade with cantilevers and bumpouts, large corner windows, inset balconies, tuck-under garages, and hidden exterior stairways. Glulam beams, open-web roof and floor trusses, and OSB-sheathed walls form a cost-effective structural skeleton for a complex designed to please hip, green-conscious downtown Denver denizens.

Learn more about the Westend project: APA Case Study: Westend Apartments, Form Q130.

Image by Will Enos Photography

Glulam used at Gunter Primary SchoolGunter Primary School, Gunter, TX

In the usually quiet streets of Gunter, Texas, the town is paving the way for its younger generation with the construction of Gunter Primary School. Completed in March 2007, the 59,700-square-foot, wood-constructed school includes classrooms, a computer lab, a cafeteria and kitchen, gymnasium, and administration offices. For the architect, choosing materials for the building was easy. With wood, the deliveries are fast and frame assembly moves quickly, said Fred Sahs, principal with SAI Architects and architect and construction manager for Gunter Primary. After shop drawing approvals, the engineered wood products were on the ground in about four weeks. In other projects using steel, the steel delivery required 15 weeks, according to Sahs. “I also like the increased design flexibility when using wood,” Sahs added. The schools unique design concept features wood in exposed and hidden structural applications. The pitched roof design, with long spans and dramatic angles, used a variety of lumber and structural engineered wood products, including a large glulam beam, measuring 12 inches wide by 7 feet deep and 82 feet long.

Read more about Gunter Primary School by downloading APA Case Study: Gunter Primary School, Form G170.

Aerial view of Winfield GateWinfield Gate Luxury Townhomes, Houston, TX

Located in Houston’s River Oaks area, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country, the townhomes in Röhe & Wright’s Winfield Gate development are a world away from what buyers traditionally envision attached housing to be. The four-story, 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot custom homes are soaring in size and replete with high-end features and thoughtful details, from the fully outfitted roof decks to the chef’s kitchens to the rock-solid structural frames.

The developer relied on dimension and engineered lumber throughout the four-story structures, including LVL, PSL, and I-joist floor and roof framing. Each home is fully sheathed in 1/2-inch plywood, a requirement for all of the company’s projects.

Glulam beams span the full width of the floor systems, from 22 to 25 feet. By carrying the load from exterior wall to exterior wall, the glulam eliminates any need for interior load-bearing walls that would interrupt the homes’ open layouts and sightlines. “There’s no question that the glulam helped us achieve our design goals,” says Andy Suman, partner at Röhe & Wright, who notes that the lack of interior load-bearing walls also will preserve the flexible nature of the layouts, allowing homeowners to make changes as their lifestyles shift.

To read more about Winfield Gate, download APA Case Study: Luxury Townhomes Tap Into Load-Carrying Capacities of Glulam Beams, Form Q120.

APA Commercial Case Studies by Category

The following APA Case Studies feature commercial construction applications that showcase the use of engineered wood in interesting, innovative and in some cases, unusual applications. Most are offered as a two-page brochure available as a PDF. Click on the following links to download.

Public Buildings

Glulam in transportationTransportation

Concrete forming case studyOffice Buildings

glulam in resortHotels

Glulam at REI headquartersRetail

glulam in churchChurches

The Village at GermantownAssisted Living/Apartment/Multi-Family

WarehouseWarehouse/Industrial Buildings

glulam in golf courseOther