Photo: Lincoln Barbour for Mahlum

Wood Design Facilitates Beautiful Cost-Effective Student Housing with Exception Environmental Performance

With five stories of wood-frame construction over a concrete podium, the Arena District Apartments student housing project in Eugene, Oregon provides a home for 244 University of Oregon students.

Project Details

  • Architect
    Mahlum Architects
  • Date Completed

    2016

  • Owner

    Inland American Communities

  • Awards

    LEED for Homes, Gold in the "Multifamily – Mid Rise" Category

Using wood helped the design team, Mahlum Architects, create a modern design aesthetic and achieve exceptional environmental performance while maintaining an aggressive budget of $128 per square foot.

The project team underwent an Alternate Materials and Methods Review with the City of Eugene to allow wood wrapped in fire-retardant gypsum board for exterior walls. This method had been previously accepted as an alternate method by the City of Portland (Oregon), and was used instead of fire-retardant treated wood required for exterior walls as an alternate to noncombustible construction in Type III buildings under the IBC.

Acoustics are key in student housing projects as poor acoustics can have a dramatic impact on student productivity. Wood is an effective acoustical insulator and its structural properties help to minimize sound vibration, so with careful planning of the location of mechanical systems and by utilizing spring isolators in their mounting systems, Mahlum was able to realize superior acoustical performance.

Providing a sustainable living space was another goal of the design team. Wood studs were spaced at 24 inches on center to allow greater insulation within the wall cavity. The building is operating about 50 percent more efficiently than anticipated according to actual utility data analyzed against the energy model.