Getting to Floor Panel FP626: The Topping off of First Tech Credit Union

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 12.38.58 PM

December 1, 2017News

By Erica Spiritos

In these moments, we are reminded of why we do what we do. The exhilaration kicks in and the stress of a seemingly impossible schedule in which to deliver a fully designed and detailed, precisely-fabricated structure fades into blurry memory. The final CrossLam™ CLT panel lands in its proper place and all of a sudden it’s as simple as self-tapping wood screws. Holy moly, we did it.

Giddy on flapjacks and maple syrup, high fives and hugs, we gather as a team outside in the mist, and look up. Six members of the Carpenters Union stand atop the largest CLT structure in the United States, in preparation for the landing of floor panel FP626. In this Act, they are the final faces we see before the credits roll, revealing a long and branching cast of characters who brought this structure to life.

My eyes well up and my mind flicks back to the beginning of our involvement in the project, to a time when, 15 months ago, we looked at a set of schematic drawings for a new office building with the potential to be a mass timber structure to challenge and awe us all.

Now, one look at this meticulously assembled sculpture of timber Legos fabricated from the Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine forests of British Columbia and we might ask: How did we arrive here? What did this process look like? Who was involved? Why is this achievement meaningful?

In March 2017, Structurlam was officially enlisted to provide the design of concealed glulam connections and CLT horizontal diaphragms, and a fully fabricated mass timber package for the First Tech Federal Credit Union project. Upon completion of the design, 3D modeling and shop drawings, the first glulam columns were delivered and installed on July 27th.  In total, 626+ CrossLam panels and 988+ glulam columns and beams were delivered in 64 truckloads. On November 16th, the final CrossLam panel was installed, bringing to completion the timber and steel frame of a 156,000 SF structure in 16 weeks.

In this ensuing message of gratitude, I hope to pull back the curtain and shine a spotlight on the who, what, how, and why:

To the leadership of First Tech Federal Credit Union, who came to the table with a “people first” ethic, who insisted on creating a work environment that would support and promote the health, happiness, and comfort of 900 employees.

To the architects of HACKER, a Portland firm who believes in the power of wood to create spaces that people thrive in, who emphasized energy efficiency, indoor air quality, equal access to natural light and views to the surrounding park from every workstation, and connecting people with nature.

To the engineers of Kramer Gehlem Associates and Equilibrium Consulting, who together designed a mass timber hybrid structure strong and resilient and fire-resistant; a sun-glowing concert of timber and steel.

To the masterminds at MyTiCon Timber Connectors, who hopped aboard a high-speed train and came through with a never-before-seen staggered Ricon connection, and project-specific testing to verify one hundred hours of calculations.

To the MEP Design-Build Team who took ownership of the painstaking work to design, locate, and model over 4,000 penetrations for sprinkler pipe and lighting in time for integration into the timber structure shop drawings and enabling factory fabrication. This up-front effort saved precious time and money in the field.

To the construction manager, general contractor, project guardians extraordinaire at Swinerton Builders, who are builders and BIM-modellers, who embrace the craft of construction and the sophistication of computer software, who had a vision of a fully prefabricated structure and manifested it through relentless coordination and planning and partnership.

We are so proud to work with all of you! Congratulations on this accomplishment!