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Sept. 21, 2018 - A new case study published by APA – The Engineered Wood Association shows how mass timber proved to be the ideal material for First Tech Federal Credit Union’s new campus in Hillsboro, Oregon. The owners and design team say the finished building delivers on its quest to encourage the health and well-being of employees, reflect Pacific Northwest values and blend in with the surrounding park and trees.

September 21, 2018  By APA – The Engineered Wood Association

First Tech, a not-for-profit credit union, sought a structure that honored the company’s “People First” philosophy and delivered a financially sound result to its membership.

The design for the five-story 156,000 square-foot building was the product of a collaboration between First Tech, Hacker Architects, Kramer Gehlen & Associates engineering and general contractor Swinerton Builders.

During the design process, the team evaluated all available materials options.

“We allowed steel to compete with mass timber throughout the evaluation,” said William Silva, Swinerton preconstruction manager. “From time to erect, fireproofing, foundation systems and other criteria, wood came out on top every time.”


Overall, the use of Structurlam-manufactured cross-laminated timber and glued-laminated beams instead of steel provided a 4 percent cost savings and four fewer months of construction.

Additionally, Silva estimates that the First Tech building sequestered 4,192 metric tons of carbon and avoided 1,622 metric tons of greenhouse gases that would have been emitted through steel manufacturing and construction.

The building demonstrated how methods like preplanning and offsite hole-drilling resulted in faster and safer onsite construction with less disruption to the surrounding neighborhood. All the components were delivered to site as ready-to-assemble prefabricated parts. The construction process allowed teams to work consistently from one end of the building to the other as the building took shape.

“Passersby would ask where all the workers were,” said Zach Davidson, P.E., S.E, the project’s Kramer Gehlen & Associates senior engineer.

Visitors to the site often felt compelled to touch the exposed wood grain and joints while touring the construction.

“Everyone loves wood,” said Scott Barton-Smith, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, a Hacker Architects associate. “The wood building is at home on that site.”

The APA Case Study: First Tech Federal Credit Union: The Building That Wanted to Be Mass Timber, form U-115, is available for download at no cost from the APA Resource Library.

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