Architecture students use Wisconsin’s underutilized wood species as mass timber

Over the summer, Forest Products Specialist Scott Lyon had the opportunity to provide technical assistance in sourcing wood materials and product development for a summer immersion program at the School of Architecture at Taliesin in Spring Green. The immersion program is geared to college-level participants and adults interested in deepening their understanding of the architectural discipline, this experience provides an opportunity to learn about architecture side-by-side with faculty and students at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

Between June and August, the students studied timber and its role in the legacy of North American architecture in Spring Green for 8 weeks. 

Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture Immersion Program students

Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture Immersion Program students (Photo by Scott Lyon)

During this time, they constructed an installation on the grounds of Taliesin that narrates wood as a symbolic architectural entity.  As an introduction to mass timber, the students used a dowel-laminated timber system in the construction of the installation.  This project provided an innovative approach to using Wisconsin’s underutilized wood species (basswood and white pine) as an emerging building application in a dowel-laminated timber system. As part of their studies, they created drawings, plans and an experimental model. 

Many local businesses provided donations of materials to help construct the installation.  In addition, the Wisconsin Wood Marketing Team that is funded through a US Forest Service Wood Innovation Grant provided $500 in financial assistance. This team is comprised of the DNR Forest Products Services Team, US Forest Service, WI DATCP, UW-Extension, and forest products industry associations. In addition to providing technical assistance, I had the opportunity to speak about why we use wood and Wisconsin’s forest products industry at the students’ final project open house and presentation.

Students’ experimental model of a dowel-laminated timber system

Students’ experimental model of a dowel-laminated timber system (Photo by Scott Lyon)

The final structure will remain on site and become part of the architecture, landscape and visitor experience of Taliesin. 

Written by Scott Lyon,, (920) 662-5184.

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