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Elevating Design Through Wood

While the international community has embraced timber as a credible building material, the U.S. continues to play catch-up. However, for Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates, designing and constructing projects with a timber structure has provided opportunities for creativity, collaboration, and innovation.

John W. Oliver design building street view at night
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UMass Amherst Design Building | Architect: Leers Weinzapfel | Photos: Albert Vecerka/Esto

 

UMass Amherst Design Building | Architect: Leers Weinzapfel | Photos: Albert Vecerka/Esto

Recently, the firm worked with faculty and students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) on the institution’s new Design Building, which became the first mass-timber structure on the East Coast when it opened in January. Leers Weinzapfel principals Andrea Leers, FAIA, and Tom Chung, AIA, had to think and act quickly when the project’s original steel structure was swapped out for a glue-laminated (glulam) post-and-beam system after design had begun. Ultimately, the timber structure integrated new building technologies, such as custom steel-and-glulam zipper trusses and a composite floor system, both devised by UMass professors.

 

 

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