PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon State University, which is internationally recognized as a leading natural resources university, has begun an initiative to build a $60 million complex to accelerate its forestry education programs and research on advanced wood products.
The Oregon Forest Science Complex will encompass renovation of existing OSU campus facilities as well as new construction; showcase innovative uses of wood in building design; and allow the College of Forestry to help meet the world's growing demand for energy efficient, tall buildings made from sustainable building products.
The project includes a $30 million fundraising goal. Once philanthropic commitments are secured, OSU will seek matching bonds from the state. Bonding for the project was included in the governor's capital budget for consideration in the upcoming legislative session.
The initiative was announced today in Portland at the Oregon Leadership Summit of the Oregon Business Plan, by Thomas Maness, the Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn C. Ford Dean of the College of Forestry.
"We are excited about leading a new national effort to advance the science and technology necessary to primarily use wood in the construction of 5- to 20-story buildings," Maness said. "Developing these new, competitively priced, environmentally friendly products will not only increase the value of Oregon's natural resources, but also grow jobs in our rural communities, with substantial benefits for our state."
Seeking new methods to reduce the carbon footprint of high-rise construction, architects and engineers from Austria to Canada, Norway and New Zealand have begun constructing buildings with exceptionally strong wood products. This "cross-laminated timber" is made of strips of wood glued together across the grain, and panels can be more than 1 foot thick and 80 feet long.
OSU already is a global leader in developing adhesives and manufacturing techniques for engineered wood products. The Oregon Forest Science Complex will boost the university's applied research efforts with a new Advanced Wood Products Laboratory. Envisioned as a 25,000-square-foot facility, it will include computer controlled and robotic manufacturing systems, plus a pilot plant designed as a learning laboratory for students.
The project also will create a life-sized example of what can be done with advanced wood products through a renovation of the College of Forestry's main academic facility, Peavy Hall.
"In addition to concerns about sustainability, there is a lot of interest in engineered wood construction because these spaces are beautiful, very inviting and healthy places to live and work," Maness said. "We want to show what you can do, and create a place that will be inspiring to our students as well as industry representatives."
New space is needed to serve OSU's growing numbers of undergraduate and graduate forestry students. Over the last decade the College of Forestry's enrollment has nearly doubled to about 1,000 students, and to meet high demand for trained forestry professionals, OSU plans to further increase enrollment to 2,000.
The Oregon Forest Science Complex illustrates the university's commitment to invest in its programs of greatest distinction and potential for local and global impact, said OSU president Ed Ray.
"Sometimes people think that forestry was important for Oregon's past but don't realize that it remains critical to our economy today, and may become even more important in the future," Ray said. "We are very proud of OSU's contributions to the sector and are eager to build on this rich heritage, carrying out our mission as a 21st century land grant university."
Last year OSU was named the world's seventh best university for forestry and agriculture by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, in a survey of more than 200 schools.
Fundraising for the Oregon Forest Science Complex will be led by the Oregon State University Foundation. The foundation recently concluded The Campaign for OSU, in which more than 106,000 donors made gifts exceeding $1.1 billion.
Fundraising efforts are now focused on targeted special initiatives that advance the university's Strategic Plan for creating transformative student learning experiences and building on the institution's areas of greatest strength and potential impact, such as forest science.