CORVALLIS, Ore. — Sierra Pacific Industries, one of the largest lumber producers in the United States, has committed $6 million to the College of Forestry at Oregon State University to support construction of an advanced wood products laboratory.
The project is part of OSU’s Oregon Forest Science Complex initiative, which will create a new home for the college on campus.
In the 20,000-square-foot laboratory, faculty and students will develop products like cross-laminated timber - the engineered wood panels at the center of growing global interest in substituting wood for steel and concrete in high-rise buildings.
California-based Sierra Pacific Industries is a third-generation, family-owned forest products company founded by A. A. “Red” Emmerson and his father, R. H. “Curly” Emmerson. In recognition of Sierra Pacific’s investment, the advanced wood products laboratory at OSU will be named in Red Emmerson’s honor.
Red Emmerson’s sons George Emmerson – who graduated from Oregon State in 1978 – and Mark Emmerson, a graduate of the University of California/Berkeley, lead the company as president and chairman/chief financial officer, respectively. Their sister Carolyn Emmerson Dietz, a 1982 OSU alumna, is president of the Sierra Pacific Foundation.
“We are extremely pleased to be associated with OSU’s Advanced Wood Products Laboratory,” George Emmerson said. “Sierra Pacific Industries has grown dramatically in the past 25 years, and we attribute much of that growth to a belief that advanced mill technology is an essential element of maintaining a competitive edge in the wood products industry.
“Wood has become the building product of choice in a carbon-constrained world, and no other material can match it for sustainability and renewability,” he said. “Success requires constant innovation.”
The 85,000-square-foot Oregon Forest Science Complex will itself be made with advanced wood products, showcasing the beauty and usefulness of this building technique. In partnership with architecture firm Miller Hull, Michael Green, a leading innovator in high-rise wood construction, is designing the facility.
The A. A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory will give students access to groundbreaking research opportunities in a program that is consistently ranked as one of the best forestry schools in the world, said Thomas Maness, the Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn C. Ford Dean of OSU’s College of Forestry.
“We’re confident that this laboratory will enhance our students’ experience and provide innovative solutions to the forest products industry,” Maness said. “This gift will allow us to build the state-of-the-art facility we need to test new ideas, yielding sustainable and advanced wood products that can change the world we live in.”
One of the university’s goals is to use the laboratory to establish Oregon as an international leader in the way wood is used in tall commercial and residential structures. That research, said OSU president Ed Ray, could have a profound impact on the state’s economy.
“Sierra Pacific’s commitment is a tremendous investment in the region’s future,” Ray said. “By developing new technologies and products that could be manufactured in Oregon and throughout the West, this lab will have a lasting positive impact on our state and its rural communities. We are deeply grateful for the company’s partnership.”
Efforts to secure funding for the Oregon Forest Science Complex, including $29.7 million in approved state bonds, are nearing completion. The project is one of several fundraising initiatives being led by the Oregon State University Foundation to advance the university’s strategic plan – creating transformative student learning experiences and building on the institution’s areas of greatest strength and potential impact.