John W. Olver Design Building University of Massachusetts, USA
Equilibrium Consulting Inc.
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects
Boston, MA, USA
University of Massachusetts Building Authority
Boston, MA, USA
In September 2017, the Design Building at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst was completed. The $52 million project is one of the largest timber structures in the USA and one of the largest wood-concrete composite projects in the world.
The four‑story 87,500 SF academic facility houses three departments in the built environment at UMass Amherst including offices, design studios, lecture theaters, and laboratories.
Structure and Design
The building is largely exposed and consists of 5 ply CLT concrete composite floor panels supported by a glulam post and beam structure.
The engineers of Equilibrium Consulting Inc. modeled and analyzed two main building components utilizing RFEM including the “zipper trusses” with adjacent steel trusses as well as the timber-concrete composite section trusses.
Each zipper truss converges four 9‑inch diameter timber struts and four varying diameter steel bars at a single point to transfer the load back to the upper glulam beams. The 12‑foot wide trusses vary in span length from 35 feet to 60 feet along with a varying depth between 7 feet and 9 feet.
For the timber-concrete composite section truss design, multiple steel connectors were modeled along the truss length to initiate the composite action between the concrete deck and the glulam timber beam. The timber-concrete composite section truss clear span extends a total length of 25 feet.
The Design Building sets a new standard of quality and performance for institutional timber construction in the USA and demonstrates how state-of-the-art timber construction can meet the demanding performance requirements of large, post-secondary educational facilities.
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Programs Used for Structural Analysis
Structural engineering software for finite element analysis (FEA) of planar and spatial structural systems consisting of plates, walls, shells, members (beams), solids and contact elements