The final (final!) Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels have been installed on our CLT project. Forming the front corner of the building these panels represent a piece of the flexibility of building with solid wood panels and speak to our passion for planet, forest, tree, and wood.
Our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, used ingenuity, software, and CNC tooling to draw, layout, and cut the “tree” design. Our timber frame and construction teams, including Jason, Kevin, and Jim, installed the panels on a chilly Monday morning. Roofing and final enclosure, including wood fiber insulation, are underway.
Residents of Indiana, Doug and Tammy have called Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan their second home for 18 years. The site they’ve enjoyed over those years includes lake frontage and views worth talking about. (Mike W captured the panoramic above from the peak of the frame on crisp day.) The couple frequented several timber home shows where they met New Energy Works Drake Ambrosino, and we’ve helped them bring it to reality this Winter.
We were told the weather is usually great in Grand Traverse, but that lake-effect snow is no joke near the water. While Darren, Mike, Anthony, and Noah were raising the frame, some tough weather hit the site. For nearly two weeks the temperatures ranged from just above zero into the teens with daily snow. The flakes didn’t diminish the team’s energy as they joined the custom stained Douglas fir main frame, front porch, and rear balconies.
T&G of the same species and finish was installed over the main frame, followed by SIP roof panels. Mike W told us, with a quick chuckle from behind his hearty beard, that high winds were ‘a challenge’ for the SIP panel installation in particular.
Porter Builders from Kewadin, MI will be completing the home throughout 2017. Points of interest within just an hour of this project include Charlexoix, Petoskey, Traverse City, Torch Lake, and many ski areas.
The design for Jim and Regina’s home on Oseetah Lake (connected to lower Saranac Lake in NY) is affectionately referred to as a modern take on Adirondack style architecture. Oseetah Lake is well-known for paddling and fishing, as it has a mean depth of 3 ft. This build site is one of nine lots on a 500 acre privately owned natural preserve around the lake. The home will be situated on a small swale off a ridge with lake views.
The couple referenced both contemporary and traditional mountain style architecture as they described their vision to our team. Adding to our road map for design was their design questionnaire – one of the most thoroughly completed we have ever received. These questionnaires are an invaluable tool when we’re beginning the design process. Many thanks to Jim and Regina for sharing their time and attention to detail!
The resulting first draft plan is very open with with overlapping living spaces. The form of the home calls for opposing sweeping lines in a contemporary, ‘lighter’ timber frame full of natural light and lake views.
Starting with the entry the home shrugs tradition with a “void” of space rather than an outreaching covered porch. Immediately upon entering, the plans call for a 90 degree turn that open to lake scenery and, as one steps further in, it becomes capacious, with clear volumes to upper level. Planning focused on eliciting views and letting the space grow as one progresses deeper within the home.
In total the home is about 2,650 sq ft. It will primarily be a two-person residence as the couple enters a ‘work from home, transitioning to retirement’ phase of life. A full-time home office will occupy a ‘tower’ and provide space for various work and play interests. For visiting guests, there are two guest bedrooms and a few spaces that could serve as additional accommodations when the house is full.
Jim and Regina are avid outdoors people and, of course, enjoy paddling. Approximately half the lower level of their home will provide storage for outdoor gear and paddle needs. There will be space for several water vessels with walk-out access to the lake.
It is always a privilege to work with homeowners to help bring their dream projects to fruition. We’ve passed through the beginning Schematic Designs with Jim and Regina and we’re excited to see their home continue to take shape and evolve through each step of the design process.
We began raising the first complete Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building in New York State on our main campus in Farmington, NY in late January 2017. A combination of mass timber, heavy timber, and CLTs, the 21,000 sq ft building will house our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, and offer a bit of storage/shipping for our sister company, Pioneer Millworks. CLT construction is an economically and environmentally conscious alternative to steel and concrete construction, a material that is new to the U.S. building industry.
From site prep to flying the the final CLT panel:
What are CLTs? A quick description might be ‘giant plywood’. More specifically, CLTs are large wooden panels, typically consisting of 3, 5, or 7 layers of dimensional lumber, oriented at right angles, glued together. The panels for our project averaged 8 feet tall and 38 feet long at 3 ¼ and 3 ¾ inch thickness. Using a crane and lulls, the panels were lifted into place and fitted by hand to the supporting timber frame. Each CLT panel has a shiplap edge that nests the panels together and is secured with metal fasteners.
We see CLTs as a wave of the future and we’re investing in our Western New York campus to better position the region and our industry to ride the wave. The opportunities with CLTs are abundant for businesses and housing and offer dramatic environmental benefits. Wood is a naturally occurring and renewable resource which stores carbon. It has proved time and again to preform as well, and at times better than, carbon heavy steel and concrete.
The CLT panels are pre-designed, highly engineered, of superior quality with precise tolerances – all specific processes and requirements that are fundamental to our timber framing craft. This fits perfectly with our traditional work and parallels the SIPs integration that we’ve spearheaded for years. The project combines the strength of mass (glulam) timbers and heavy timbers with CLT panels, utilizing a timber frame wrapped by CLT walls and topped by CLT roof panels. The panels arrived from Austria, shipped by sea (which had about half the carbon impact in comparison to shipping by land across the US or from Canada) with pre-cut openings for windows and doors. These panels were made using smaller Spruce trees from sustainably managed forests in the EU.
Raising the frame and installing the panels (walls and roof) for this project took just under three weeks. This is our first CLT project and we now know first-hand that time on site is minimized and there is little waste with this product. While there was a learning curve, the process was amazingly smooth. Many accolades for our co-workers who are dynamic thinkers, unstoppable doers, and all around great people. Darren, Mike, Noah, Michael, Quinn, Todd, Anthony, Kevin, Marc, Mike G, and Wes to name a few who spent hours on the ground – also on ladders, in lulls, and on the roof – in chilly, wet, sunny, and snowy conditions.
A blustery, snowy day in upstate NY.
And a sunny, bright day. Typical to the Upstate region, weather fluctuated greatly over the 3 week raising.
A little dancing was in order as the last panel was installed (see Todd on the far left):
We’re excited to move our fine woodworking division on our main campus. In February of 2015, NEWwoodworks, located in neighboring Shortsville, NY, suffered a catastrophic event as excessive snow loads caused half of the roof collapse over their 70-year-old building (no one was injured). NEWwoodworks will be entrusted with 13,000 sq ft of the new CLT building while Pioneer Millworks will utilize 8,000 sq ft for reclaimed wood storage and shipping. We’ve expanded our Farmington office space to accommodate the NEWwoodworks design and management team, as well as give Pioneer Millworks a bit more elbow room.
We anticipate easier communication and workflow allowing us to better serve our clients by joining NEWwoodworks with our main campus and giving Pioneer Millworks easy access to a loading dock plus covered space for inventory.
A special piece of this project is a Broad Leaf Maple tree sourced by our co-worker, Randy, from his forest in Oregon. The tree was crafted to serve as a main post in the NEWwoodworks section of our CLT building. Mike W connected with this tree from delivery in OR to raising in NY. He had a few words about this post which he affectionately named, Atlas.
Next steps: We’ll be installing a Wood Fiber Insulation on the exterior of the CLT building. Another product which is new to the US, these panels offer 3.5R per inch, are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, and are another carbon sink – for each 1 m3 used, up to 1 tonne of CO2 is bound within the product. Exterior cladding, radiant heat, windows, and more will round out this new build as Spring 2017 progresses.
A tree for a mass timber project? What started as an idea branched into reality as our team selected a west coast Broad Leaf Maple tree to be a central post in our Cross Laminated Timber project. Mike W, one of our timber craftsmen and an avid nature lover, applied his skills and artistic eye from unloading the big Maple in Oregon to hand-crafting the joinery and leading the raising in New York. Along the way he formed an attachment to this “post” and named it ‘Atlas’. He shares his adventure with Atlas below:
This tree had a purpose, a destiny even. The 60-year-old Acer Macrophyllum Big Leaf Maple was selected by my co-workers Randy and Noah (from Randy’s land) for its particular size, shape, and branch structure. It would become a load-bearing post and not just any post – it will support a 30,000 lb gravity load and an 84 foot glulam beam line in our new Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building in Farmington, NY (the first complete CLT building in New York State!).
Using some experience from previous projects, the support of my colleagues, and a little book knowledge I picked up at the Timber Framers Guild conference, I got started.
First, I snapped out the reference lines – this would orientate the precise position of the beam pocket and base cut (where all the pressure is). Second, I set the tree onto sawhorses and played with the overall shape. This was my favorite part because it is all about balance and feel. This was where I got to imagine how the piece I was working was going to orientate when it was done. I had to get high over the tree and observe its relationship with the lines I snapped. I even laid down and looked at it from the side, imagining how it will look as the post I wanted it to be.
Once I was set on the position of the tree in relation to the joinery I began to mark my datum lines and started layout of the beam pocket. One thing to mention is that plans were for the beam pocket to be made up of two upright co-dominates. (Co-dominate, in this case, refers to how the main trunk splits and becomes two. This is a fun thing I learned from our newest addition in the timber frame shop, Noah Mize. He comes from an arborist background and is very knowledgeable.) I got out the laser to guide my cuts, after all it is the 21st century.
A little customization on the joinery. According to Mike, it represents “With love from the west coast to the east coast.”
The chisel work was a true joy. The chisel seemed to glide effortlessly allowing me to really push for precision, without losing sight of efficiency. That was the first upright. The second proved to be much more difficult. Long story short I had to tap out the lap joint all upside down and overhead. I had to squat on a block of wood 7″ off the ground while operating my chisel at shoulder height to make a flat which was facing the ground. Awkward, to say the least. To add to the difficulty the location of the work was right near the union, or point where the trunk splits into two. Needless to say the grain got harder and ran in all directions at once, or so it seemed.
The time for the post bottom cut was upon us. Randy brought in his O44 chainsaw with a 42″ bar to preform this work. We made a couple test cuts and away we went. The final cut was cleaned up with a 12″ planner to flat with the layout marks re-written on the fresh surface.
Our McMinnville and Portland OR teams, as well as our Farmington NY teams, signed the base of Atlas prior to raising.
With the base cut done this was no longer a tree; it was a post. I could imagine myself as this post, holding my arms out wide supporting the timber [much like Atlas]. I can truly say it was my honor to pour my love and energy into tree. It was my privilege to be part of giving this tree to its new life, a post at the heart of our new fine woodworking shop.
Mike was a key part to raising Atlas earlier this week. The post is now in place and connected to the frame, supporting substantial glulam timbers. More CLT panels are going into place and will shelter Atlas for decades to come. A video and photos of the raising are below: