CADC Research Commons Hosts Mass Timber Research Collaboration

CADC Professor Practice Tom Chung at CADC Research Commons

A team of faculty from across the College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC) are researching new forms of advanced wood building systems that are having a big impact on the design and construction fields.

These state-of-the-art technologies create exceptionally strong and versatile wood building components by gluing, nailing or doweling wood products together in layers. The results are large structural panels, posts and beams collectively known as mass timber. The CADC began offering classes on mass timber this past year, and the opening of the CADC Research Commons provides new opportunities for interdisciplinary and collaborative teaching through its shared spaces.

A new undergraduate seminar allows architecture and building science students to follow real-world processes for designing buildings by examining the architecture students’ studio design projects. The students work in teams to refine the project designs while considering the structures’ efficiency and selection of mass timber products, and they also talk through the construction process for each. The Commons’ flexible lecture space next to the architecture studio enables this collaborative process.

Professor of Practice Tom Chung teaches the studio portion of the class while Chung and Assistant Research Professor Jake Elbrecht co-lecture on the benefits of mass timber, which include sustainability, aesthetics and faster, quieter and more efficient construction.

Mass Timber Seminar at CADC Research Commons
Mass Timber seminar at CADC Research Commons

Chung and Elbrecht are both members of the newly formed Auburn Mass Timber Collaborative, a multidisciplinary research, training and outreach initiative established in response to the growing interest in mass timber. Comprised of faculty from across disciplines in CADC, the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, the Collaborative will work to advance research, education and outreach in mass timber design and construction with a focus on the forestry, architecture, engineering and construction industries in the Southeast.

A 2023 Wood Innovation Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will strengthen the Collaborative and allow the team to pull together stakeholders from across timber, design and construction industries to share in the effort. The research partners need to meet in person periodically, so CADC has offered up the perfect meeting spot: the new CADC Research Commons.

Mass Timber studio at CADC Research Commons

The Commons provides the space for discussions about research proposals and funding opportunities, while the CADC Research Shop, located adjacent to the Research Commons, will include a 2,700 square foot Mass Timber Research Lab. This lab will be used to produce a variety of mass timber components for different types of testing.

The CADC Research Commons has quickly become an integral part of CADC’s expanding mass timber education efforts and research activities, and Elbrecht, along with his faculty and research peers, is eager to sustain the momentum.

“It’s so important that we stay ahead of the curve when it comes to mass timber research and education,” Elbrecht stated. “The CADC Research Commons is a fantastic facility where we can do just that.”

Related people:
Tom S. Chung, Jake Elbrecht