The Michigan State University STEM Teaching and Learning Facility will be the first in Michigan to use mass timber wood products, rather than concrete and/or steel, for its load-bearing structure. The $100 million facility will be constructed of glue-laminated wooden columns and cross-laminated timber (CLT), a relatively new product for the floors and ceilings.

“We compared mass timber with other framing methods and were intrigued by how far wood has come as a building material,” said John LeFevre, MSU’s Planning, Design and Construction director. “A major advantage is the speed of construction – the panels can be assembled very quickly.” The new building will be constructed around the former Shaw Lane Power Plant. Two new mass timber wings will offer 117,000 sq. ft. of modern teaching labs, responding to STEM course demand, which has increased 40% in the last 10 years at MSU. The building is slated to open in fall 2020 with classes beginning in January 2021. The wood panels are being manufactured in Quebec and will arrive on campus in April.

Currently there is no CLT manufacturing in Michigan, although it’s a prime place for future development. In addition to economic development, the building will have environmental benefits, especially for locking up carbon that otherwise would be in the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. “I am excited to see the educational, research and outreach opportunities that the building itself promises to many academic units and to our land-grant mission,” says Ron Hendrick, dean of MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “It is an interdisciplinary platform encompassing forestry, construction management, biosystems engineering and beyond, and can serve as a catalyst to develop this new technology in Michigan.
“Having a CLT manufacturer in Michigan would not only create green jobs using sustainable resources, but also provide the financial resources and incentives that are needed to restore and conserve healthy, diverse and productive forests that provide so many other benefits,” says Debbie Begalle, state forester and chief of the Forest Resources Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.