American Hardwoods
Real American Hardwoods

“Following a multi-year research period, Virginia Tech students and faculty developed a structurally-viable, high-performance, local-species cross-laminated timber product made with a low-grade hardwood – Yellow Poplar CLT – and utilized it for the construction of a 30-foot high, 75-foot long, publicly accessible tower – The New River Train Observation Tower, Radford, Virginia.

  • Rather than import softwood CLT into oversupplied, hardwood-dominate forest regions of the Eastern U.S., the project team decided to “think local” to reduce carbon costs. The hardwood was harvested, sawn, pressed, and utilized all within a 200-mile radius of the project site.
  • The Yellow Poplar-CLT product not only outperforms all other CLT available in the U.S. market, but the project is also the first permanent building permitted for, and constructed with, hardwood CLT in the United States.
  • The train tower is composed of two structural CLT boxes bisected by a handicap-accessible path. The largest CLT box was prefabricated offsite as a module, and craned into place.
  • The project’s wood-education focus and linkage to the surrounding forested landscape is evidenced through its projecting roof cantilevers – each a maximum of 3” thick – and the pixelated holes cut through the CLT – a strategy to provide playful views of the forest to children and adults alike, while exposing the CLT layers to educate the public.”

A 2020 winner of the prestigious Architizer A+ Awards – Details-Plus-Architecture + New Materials, The New River Train Observation Tower “sets research and design benchmarks as the first permanent building to be constructed with exterior-exposed structural hardwood CLT, as well as the first to utilize modular prefabrication for permanent hardwood construction.”

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American Hardwood Information Center

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