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Why Colleges & Universities Are Building with Heavy Timber

Why Colleges & Universities Are Building with Heavy Timber

College and university campuses are breaking away from traditional architectural styles and showing off more innovative designs. From admin buildings to research centers, they’re choosing heavy timber not only for its aesthetic appeal, but also the design, structural, and health benefits the material brings. Here’s a closer look at five reasons colleges and universities are building with heavy timber (and why you should too).

  1. Structural Integrity: Heavy timber structures can last for centuries and are incredibly durable. They have the ability to withstand damage from fire and natural disasters — including earthquakes and hurricanes — better than other building materials because of the wood’s natural elasticity, strength, and lighter weight.
  2. Sustainability Benefits: Timber is a renewable building material that can help environmentally conscious institutions reduce their carbon footprint. Trees naturally absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and even after they’ve have been harvested and turned into timber for construction, that carbon will continue to be stored in the wood for a building’s lifetime. Timber’s manufacturing process also emits fewer carbon emissions — about 1/3 of the emissions produced by making brick and 1/20 of those produced in steel manufacturing!
  3. Aesthetic Appeal: The natural beauty of heavy timber buildings is unmatched. Colleges are relying on timber to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere on campus, one that staff and students alike want to spend time in. Timber framing naturally lends itself to open floor plans and oversized windows, which allow natural light to pour into the entire space. This lets students study and learn without the harsh glow of fluorescent lights.
  4. Design Flexibility: Heavy timber offers design flexibility that other building materials do not. Timber construction requires fewer load-bearing walls, which creates greater flexibility in terms of creating floor plans and determining the location of doors, windows, and structural supports. Additionally, timber complements any architectural style, making it suitable for a wide range of settings, from a historic Ivy League school to a modern urban campus.
  5. Health Benefits: One of the incredible benefits of timber frame structures is their ability to create a biophilic environment. Experiencing aspects of nature, even indoors, boosts humans’ connection with nature and provides both physiological and psychological benefits. Timber buildings can decrease staff and students’ stress levels, inspire creativity, increase productivity, and enhance their overall well-being.

Timber & Higher Learning, a Natural Fit

There’s an abundance of evidence supporting the benefits of building with heavy timber, which is why it’s becoming a popular choice for colleges and universities. Timber frame construction meets the sustainability goals of many of these institutions, while also creating a beautiful, calming environment for students and professors to do their best work.

If you’re interested in starting a heavy timber project of your own, contact the team at Mid-Atlantic Timberframes. We look forward to bringing the benefits of timber frame construction to your next project.


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