Timber City material gets a new life

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By Zachary Levine, director of Exhibitions & Collections

Murray Grove interior under construction, London, UK, 2009. Photo: Will Pryce. Courtesy Waugh Thistleton Architects.
Murray Grove interior under construction, London, UK, 2009. Photo: Will Pryce. Courtesy Waugh Thistleton Architects.

What would you do with 23,000 pounds of wood? If you visited the Museum in the last year, you couldn’t have missed the monumental pylon and beam in the Great Hall. They were part of the Timber City exhibition which explored cutting-edge use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) in building construction. Twenty-three tons of structural wood walls highlighted emerging methods of timber construction, including wood’s surprising strength, fire resistance, sustainability, and beauty, and explored how U.S. based timber manufacturing can help revitalize rural manufacturing communities and benefit urban centers.

But, where did all that wood go? The Museum and its exhibition partners donated nearly all of the wall panels to the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project at the Yale School of Architecture. The panels were trucked to New Haven, Connecticut, where they will become components in the design and construction of a prototype two-household home for families currently experiencing homelessness.

First-year graduate students and Yale’s design and technology faculty will design and construct the house. The students will undertake deep social and educational outreach in the New Haven community, perform extensive technical research in engineering and design, and curate a public presentation and exhibition of their research. They will provide all design and construction labor under the professional supervision of Yale’s faculty, including securing other material donations to make the final product possible.

The completed prototype will be exhibited in New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas in June on the New Haven Green. The final house will be constructed on a Housing Authority site in the City’s Newhallville neighborhood through the summer of 2018 and completed the following September.

Project Managers Discuss Building Plans

About the Jim Vlock Building Project

The Jim Vlock Building Project is a 50 year-old Design Build studio, the oldest continuous program of its kind in the United States, and a feature of the curriculum in the graduate Master’s degree program at the Yale School of Architecture. Each year, for over three decades, Yale’s first year class designs and builds an affordable two-family house in New Haven with a non-profit client/affordable and supportive housing developer.

About Timber City

Timber City was presented at the National Building Museum from September 17, 2016–September 10, 2017. It was curated and designed by Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura, founding partners of the Boston-based architectural design firm ikd. The exhibition was possible through generous support from the USDA Forest Service, Softwood Lumber Board, and Nixon Peabody LLP.