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Industry & Trends

The Pine Tree State Gets Its First Mass Timber Buildings

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February 14, 2024 | Warren Shoulberg

Maine is well known for its vast forests and wooded lands but it’s never had a mass timber building… up until now.

It’s known as the Pine Tree State in recognition of its millions of acres of forestry so the recent opening of a pair of mass timber buildings on the campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME seems only fitting, marking the first such commercial structures in the state.

“This was once a working forest, and that stuck with us. We thought, ‘Let’s bring that history inside’,” Lauren Piepho, structural project engineer with HGA, the architectural firm that designed the two buildings, told Metropolis, the design website. Measuring 46,000 square feet, the complex includes two structures: the Barry Mills Hall and the John and Lile Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies (CAS). “Mills Hall,” Metropolis wrote, is “clad in locally sourced red water-struck brick (and) houses the digital and computational studies and anthropology departments, including classrooms, faculty offices, a screening room and a 300-person event space.”

The CAS building is finished in black long-form brick and houses the college’s artifacts from Arctic expeditions as well as classrooms and offices.

“There’s a beautiful dialogue between eras all around campus. It has that sense of familiarity, but also a quality of something new,” Nat Madson, a design principal with HGA told Metropolis. But the benefits are more than just aesthetic. Matthew Tonello of Consigli Construction calculated there is an 80 percent carbon emission reduction over a comparable steel superstructure. In the same Metropolis report, Bowdoin CFO Matt Orlando said, “we are legitimately offsetting our electricity use.”

HGA’s Piepho thinks the setting is especially appropriate for mass timber construction. “Let’s bring that sense of the whispering pines into the buildings in a more literal sense.”

Image: Consigli Construction

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