This innovative structure made from mass plywoods panels (MPP) by Freres Lumber Co., located in Lyons, Oregon, was on display at the A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory

by Abbie Leland

Oregon State University was recently one of 10 colleges and universities across the United States to receive a grant through the Mass Timber University Grant Program.

Grants awarded through the Mass Timber University Grant Program to all 10 institutions totaled $1 million. This cooperative partnership with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities supports the construction of mass timber buildings on college campuses across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

OSU receives $100,000 in funds with the grant award, which will be used to explore the structural possibilities that mass timber could play in the design of OSU’s new arts and education complex on the university’s Corvallis campus. OSU announced in July 2019 that the new arts and education complex will be built at the corner of Southwest 15th Street and Washington Way.

Mass timber includes a variety of wood products made up of smaller pieces of wood that are laminated and compressed to create large, solid panels of wood that can serve as structural components in buildings, according to the Forest Service.

Additionally, placing these buildings at institutions of higher learning, such as OSU, can help educate more people about the benefits of mass timber. The Forest Service highlights that a thriving mass timber market helps maintain forest health and resiliency, supports employment opportunities in rural communities and advances sustainability of the built environment.

And this isn’t the first time mass timber is being explored at OSU. OSU has been a pioneer in adopting mass timber, with the recent completion of the A.A. Red Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Lab and the George W. Peavy Forest Science Center, which will be completed in Spring 2020 as part of the Oregon Forest Science Complex for the College of Forestry. The Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Lab is also home to the TallWood Design Institute, whose applied research and education mission is to promote greater use of wood in non-residential and multi-family construction. The TallWood Design Institute helped with the grant submission process for the Mass Timber University Grant Program and serves as a key member of the grant-winning team for the arts and education complex project.

While concrete and steel are more traditional and commonly-used building materials, mass timber offers up something new and innovative for OSU to explore.

Oregon State’s research addresses issues that improve lives, protect natural resources and drive economic growth. While cutting-edge research takes place in buildings like the Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, Cordley Hall or Hallie E. Ford Center, research into topics such as pollinator health can take place in campus’s landscapes—right before our eyes.

The Corvallis campus is a living laboratory. Tucked away in small corners on the west side of campus are a number of small projects. Student projects, faculty projects and more—all supported by the Landscape Shop, which is part of Facilities Services.

One of these projects was started by Isabella Messer, an undergraduate studying Horticulture in the College of Agriculture Sciences. She recently began her first research project detailing bee visits to pollinator-attractive plants in OSU landscapes. She’s counting in five-minute increments how many visits pollinators make to plants such as showy milkweed, columbine, oregano and pearly everlasting, which are scattered around landscapes around the greenhouse gardens west of the Agricultural and Life Sciences Building. Messer wanted to count visits to plants that weren’t represented in the landscapes, so she and Horticulture professor Gail Langellotto approached Todd Cross, Trades Maintenance Coordinator for the Landscape Shop, about the possibility of adding to the Corvallis campus landscapes.

Cross had recently connected with Langellotto at the PNW Pollinator Summit, hosted by Oregon State in February 2019, and was eager to help. “The real value in a project like this for us in the Landscape Shop is what we learn,” explained Cross. “Landscape is a constantly evolving trade and if we are doing our jobs well we should always be open to new techniques, new products, new plants and new ways of thinking. Pollinators are a hot topic right now and for good reason.”

Along with Bill Coslow, supervisor of the Landscape Shop, the group met to plan a planting timeline, define responsibilities and figure out irrigation issues. Messer planted the specimens around the greenhouses and has been counting pollinator visits since this spring.

“Isabella can literally walk out the door of ALS  and start doing ecological science,” explained Langellotto, who is supervising this research project. “I have fewer concerns about her safety, compared to if she had to visit multiple private properties. The Landscape Shop has been fantastic, in terms of inviting us in to do science, and keeping open lines of communication to make sure that we can meet our goals without compromising theirs (and vice versa).”

New Advanced wood products lab

High bay featuring three-story structural wall for testing wood products in the new A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory

Rising up on the west side of the Corvallis campus, the A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory brings a high tech look to the area of barns and fields associated with the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine. When completed, the lab (also known as the AWP) will house research devoted to finding new ways to use timber products in structures—both residential and commercial—and new ways of building and engineering using wood.

The black metal building contains a high bay area— capable of holding a three-story structure. The high bay area will have plenty of space for large, long panels and beams. The floor is reinforced to hold heavy structures. The AWP will be a resource for undergraduate and graduate students learning about mass timber research, manufacturing, design and engineering and will enhance the undergrad research experience for College of Forestry students.
The A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory is made possible by a donation of $6 million by A.A. “Red” Emmerson, found of Sierra Pacific Industries, the second largest lumber company in the United States. The AWP is slated to be up and running by mid-summer 2019.
Washington Way facing westThe Washington Way (WW) corridor through the heart of campus is complex. Running along a narrow corridor is a road, a shared use path (for pedestrians and bicyclists), and an active freight railroad line. The actual road, SW Washington Way, is narrow and contains no on-street bike lanes.

A multi-year project has started to address many of the issues surrounding the Washington Way corridor–from SW 35th Street to the west all the way to SW Benton Place to the east. OSU, coordinating with the city of Corvallis and the Union Pacific Railroad, is working right now to design new facilities along SW Washington Way, consisting of a new bike and pedestrian facilities and a better-landscaped corridor. Safe and attractive drop off areas will be added for cars and buses. The project is in the design phase and plans to be finished in 2022.

“This summer we’ll have a better idea of how this project will look,” explained Aaron Collett, project manager for the WW corridor. “You may see utility investigation and survey crews out, getting a better handle on what will all need to be managed during the project, but construction won’t begin until 2020.”

Updates to the project, including impacts to campus operations, will be shared with the campus community and be available on the Washington Way Reconstruction project page.

Cordley HallWith high-profile new construction happening on campus, sometimes it’s easy to overlook many of the renovations, upgrades and other improvements happening on the Corvallis campus. One certain project, however, won’t be so easy to overlook, as it will span five years, require two phases and affect between 400 and 500 faculty, staff and students in the Colleges of Science and Agricultural Sciences. The Cordley Hall renewal project, which began this summer and is expected to wrap up in 2024,  will reverberate across campus, but when it is complete Cordley Hall will be the centerpiece of life sciences research and learning on campus.

Cordley Hall was built in two phases, starting in 1956 and completed in 1965. It was a typical academic and lab building for its time. Science, research and teaching have all changed and Cordley Hall is no longer meeting the needs of the students and researchers using the building. In addition, many of the mechanical systems are out-of-date or on the edge of failing. In 2017 the Infrastructure Working Group, a group established in 2016 that recommends and rates infrastructure projects to the Board of Trustees and university leadership, named Cordley Hall its top priority. Cordley Hall suffers from years of deferred maintenance and budget cuts. Recent increases to the deferred maintenance and capital renewal budgets from both the university’s E&G funds and state bond funding are allowing the university to renovate Cordley Hall from a dark, outdated building to a 235,000 square feet of modern research and teaching space for the life sciences.

The first step to the multi-year project was to find an overflow space to hold the researchers and their labs while the renovations take place. In June 2018, OSU purchased an existing research building 4575 SW Research Way to serve as a new STEM building. But before that happens, the building will be remodeled to act as temporary surge space for those researchers displaced by the Cordley Hall renovations. The renovations at Cordley Hall will be a two-part process. One half of the building will move out to 4575 SW Research Way and, while empty, be completely renovated. After that, the first half will move back in and the second half of the building will move out.

The renewal project has already begun; in the summer of 2017, Cordley Hall’s roof was replaced. It’s a good start to the project; after all, the project was completed on time and under budget. The last time the roof was replaced, explains John Gremmels, the university’s capital planner, was about 25 or 30 years ago, when construction standards and energy codes were a lot different. In addition to the new roof, eight inches of insulation was added to help save energy by keeping warm air in or out, depending on the season.

“When we renovate, we’re always looking for ways to passively save energy. Passive systems rarely break.” Gremmels explained.

The next goal is to make improvements to life safety systems, such as fire alarms and sprinklers, and upgrading the HVAC system. Also in the renovation plan will be upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems of the building, replacing exterior windows and improving the accessibility of Cordley Hall’s restrooms and hallways. Along with the renovation comes a renewal of Cordley Hall’s labs, classrooms, collection spaces and collaboration spaces.

“The renewal of Cordley Hall will be adding value to our campus and our science programs by creating a state-of-the-art facility where there was none, saving the university money by using existing infrastructure — and we’ll no longer spending money be managing its decline, “said Gremmels.

Einerson House - CMLCThe 1920s Tudor Revival house on the corner of NW Jackson Street and Arnold Way may be small, but will host many cultural events in the coming months. The former Asian & Pacific Cultural Center, now named the Einerson House, was renovated this summer to house the Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center (CMLC), a learning center dedicated to community building, education, mentoring and more.

Oregon State University has been an enthusiastic collaborator with CMLC for the past 11 years. In addition to serving the Corvallis community, CMLC’s services, programming and collaborative space are also available to OSU students, faculty and staff.  While their old 9th Street house has a special place in CMLC’s heart, the move to the Einerson House space will allow CMLC to serve its community better.

For one, the Einerson House is more easily accessed by public transportation and is closer to the Corvallis campus, making it more accessible to the community. In addition, the main entrance to the house has been moved to the rear of the house, where an accessible ramp is available, and the restroom has also been made accessible. 

Sami Al-Abdrabbuh, the CLMC board president, notes that the Einerson House’s accessibility improvements serve a longer-term goal of inclusiveness for all. In addition, he notes that CMLC will be able to qualify for grants and more funding to expand their programs now that their facility has improved accessibility. 

“We’ve done a lot to tailor the renovation to the CLMC’s needs,” explained Dustin Sievers, the project manager for the Einerson House. “We took the open space to more private spaces for people to gather, we expanded the kitchen to accommodate cooking classes and we turned the existing garage into a classroom.”

The Einerson House (pronounced Eee-ner-son) was occupied from 1937 until 1967 by Joseph Nicoli Einerson and Marie Mathilda Einerson, who owned a wholesale candy and tobacco store in Corvallis called Einerson’s. Anticipating the Corvallis campus’s eventual growth, Oregon State University purchased the Tudor Revival bungalow at 2638 NW Jackson Street in 1976. In 1990 Oregon State University’s Asian Cultural Center (later, the Asian & Pacific Cultural Center) was established there.

CMLC moved into the renovated space in early July, and the CMLC will hold a grand reopening celebration on Saturday, October 13th from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. 

Dolls at the CMLC

clock at Meier and Frank


“Meet me under the clock!” has a new meaning.

The Meier and Frank building in Portland was once home to the Meier and Frank department store, and later Macy’s, where shoppers often planned to meet up under the Art Deco-style clock that now graces the building’s lobby. But as of September 20th, Portland will be meeting under the clock for a new reason – to meet before or after class.

Ten classes, from Marketing to Infant & Child Development, will be taught at OSU in Portland starting in the fall term of 2018. OSU has leased 40,000 square feet on the second floor of the historic building; 35,000 sq feet of it will be cutting edge classrooms, conference rooms, offices and several informal study and meeting spaces.

One of the most striking aspects of the renovation was also one of the most head-scratching. “Macy’s put up walls in front of the striking floor-to-ceiling windows,” explained Libby Ramirez, OSU’s University Architect and project manager of this renovation. “They wanted customers to focus on the products rather than the view outside. Renovation plans called for tearing down these walls, exposing views to Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Pioneer Courthouse, and other bustling views of downtown Portland.”

The view out of the unblocked windows is phenomenal — and completely uncluttered. Building regulations stipulate that nothing be placed in the windows. However, along with the great view looking out, pedestrians and other city wanderers can also look in (OSU’s space is on the second floor, after all). To provide the space a little outward-facing OSU promotion, a large teaching wall was installed in a classroom facing Pioneer Courthouse Square. When not in use, this teaching wall will promote OSU to passersby from across the street.

Many classes and degrees will be offered from OSU in PDX; more each term. In addition, OSU Foundation and the OSU Alumni Association will be moving their Portland offices into the Meier & Frank space later this fall. It’s quite a start for OSU’s touchdown in the big city.

OSU in Portland
One of the informal meeting spaces at OSU in Portland
Cores and the new repositoruy

Project Type: Capital Renovation
Completion: Summer 2018

Core samples from the earth are an important tool to answer questions about the world around us. They can help us figure out when in history a volcano erupted, an earthquake occurred and oceanic conditions over a targeted point in time. Cores can help us learn about the ecosystems on the deepest seafloor and they can even help us learn about climate change, historically and in the future. And now the Antarctic cores have a new home in Corvallis.

The new Marine and Geology Repository is complete and ready to begin receiving these resources from their previous home in Florida.

Since 1972 Oregon State University has housed the Marine and Geology Repository for the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. The Repository houses sediment cores from lakes, sediment traps and, now, the Antarctic. The National Science Foundation awarded Oregon State University curatorial stewardship of the Antarctic core collection, previously based at Florida State University (who will continue to co-manage the samples). It was the job of the MGR to pack up and move those ice cores across the county, in the heat of the summer, to a new facility.

The Marine and Geology Repository has been moved to a renovated facility on Research Way, sharing a building with OSU Printing and Mailing. The Antarctic core collection will be combined with Oregon State’s current collection in the new, 95,000 square foot facility. Cold storage of the cores will occupy 18,000 square feet of 37-degree space and there will be plenty of room for students and other researchers to come to learn and collaborate with the Marine and Geology Repository.

Project Type: Capital Renewal
Estimated Completion: Ongoing


Rules governing the use of state funding has stressed operating and maintenance expenses for much of the university, leading to OSU’s current deferred maintenance backlog. However, OSU has a plan to tackle this serious problem.

For 2015-2017, the University was allocated $26 million to address critical renewal needs. The university prioritized projects, considering:

  1. Is this project critical for a building to operate safely and for people to have access?
  2. Will this project contribute to student, faculty and staff success?
  3. Are there other matching funds available for this project?

John Gremmels, OSU’s Capital Planner, pointed out a few of the 2015-2017 capital renewal projects that are having the biggest impact on safety, success and sustainability on our campus over the next few years.

Updates to the Gilbert Hall auditoria (rooms 124 and 224) will be more comfortable for students taking Chemistry lab courses. “The rooms will see much-improved accessibility, better circulation for students and instructors, better climate control and new seats – a better student experience,” explained Gremmels. Work will begin this summer as soon as classes end, and the plan is to have the auditoria complete by the start of winter term 2019.

Roof replacement is big business during the summer in Oregon and OSU is no exception. Roofs on Agriculture and Life Sciences Building and Cordley and Burt Halls are due to be replaced before the fall term begins, checking off another big line item on the maintenance backlog.

Capital renewal happens off the Corvallis campus, too. The visitor center of Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport was renovated, including a new octopus lair.

University Facilities, Infrastructure and Operations has published the list of 2015-2017 list of capital renewal projects to keep the university informed on its progress. With all this progress comes inevitable road closures and detours. Campus residents can find information on construction effects on campus at OSU Campus Closures, Shutdowns and Detours.

Steam tunnel construction near Peavy Construction
(photo: Erin Martin)

While Boston’s “Big Dig” project was a 25-year megaproject, OSU’s current “big dig,” a steam tunnel installation, will finish by the fall of 2018. The steam tunnel installation is a large-scale infrastructure project designed to improve the reliability and resiliency of heating and steam usage across the Corvallis campus.

All of the Corvallis campus’s steam and half of its electricity is produced by the Energy Center, a co-generation facility located on Southwest 35th St. and Southwest Jefferson Way. Steam is used across campus for heating buildings, but also for heating water, for sterilizing lab equipment, and even in restaurant steam tables used to keep food hot. When the Energy Center started operating at capacity in June of 2011, it was awarded LEED Platinum certification, which recognizes the Energy Center’s efficient use of energy resources.

The Energy Center currently feeds steam to campus by a single large steam pipe. In late 2016 and early 2017, the steam line began failing, which created an opportunity to improve the steam delivery system for OSU’s Corvallis campus. The new system features two steam feeder lines, in addition to the steam return line. When complete, in normal Oregon weather conditions, one steam line will deliver steam to campus. In the event of extreme cold, or a line failure, a simple valve can be turned and the other line will be put into operation immediately – resulting in no interruption of steam supply to campus. This redundancy will also help facilities services address maintenance during the university’s annual steam shutdown. 

“The benefit of the tunnel is that we can run steam, electricity, and even water to campus as a closed system,” explains Joseph Majeski, director of facilities services. “No catastrophes. If there is a problem we can reach it, assess the problem, and fix it. No digging required.”  

The steam tunnel project will cost approximately $10 million and will be paid from capital renewal funds. In fact, the steam tunnel project will allow other issues to be addressed, like road conditions on Jefferson Way, lighting, pedestrian and bike facility improvements.

With a campus as large as the Corvallis campus’s 570 acres, Majeski said facilities services staff try to create redundant systems as much as possible to allow for uninterrupted campus operations.

“Keeping classes going, laboratories functioning and campus running. That’s the goal,” says Majeski.