Glulam Timbers Bring Beauty & History to Pioneer Park Pavilion in Puyallup, WA

Edited by Carl Molesworth | September 28, 2010

The new farmers market building in Puyallup, Wash., is an elegant showcase of long-span glulam timbers. After holding their market outdoors for many years, the city fathers decided to create a 12,500-square-foot structure that would not only shelter the display stalls, but would be an aesthetic landmark of engineered wood.

The recently completed building, called Pioneer Park Pavilion, is located in downtown Puyallup. It welcomes local growers, artisans and shoppers on busy weekends, and is also booked for wedding receptions, concerts, reunions, special events, trade shows and meetings well into 2007.

The architects were TCF Architecture in Tacoma. Pease Construction in Lakewood, Wash., was the contractor. Engineers were PCS Structural Solutions.

The multi-purpose building resembles a shed tilted up in a welcoming gesture. Overhead doors between the pilasters on the north and south face transform the building into an open air, flow-through pavilion. It includes a 400-foot stage area and kitchen facilities.

Kent McLaren of TCF Architects describes the building as "The South Wall of Puyallup's Living Room." He says the original design concept recalls the historic agrarian sheds that dotted the Puyallup Valley long ago. The most striking feature of the dramatic structure is the long-span glulam beams that are 30 inches deep and 93 feet long, connected by 5-1/8-inch by 9-inch purlins. The beams have an 18-foot cantilever above the overhead doors. The roof and finish ceiling are laminated decking.

Because of moisture conditions, the entire structure was framed to avoid damage risk before the concrete floor was installed. Masonry walls were built under temporary tents so the building process could stay on track.

Loren Pease, general manager for Pease Construction, credits the glulam design with speeding construction and helping to finish the building on budget. The laminated deck ceiling was installed in three weeks rather than the anticipated five weeks. Total cost of the building was $2.2 million.

"It saves a lot of time when the beams come to the job site pre-drilled and ready to erect, and you work with one carpenter trade, rather than bringing in the iron workers," Pease said.

Trend Toward Engineered Wood

Designers note that the furring, sheathing and finishing often required with steel framing can be eliminated with glulam construction. Also, when glulam materials arrive at the job site prefinished, the delivered product is the finished product. This makes glulam useful as a structural component for many kinds of buildings. Other types of framing members arrive on site in raw form, and require additional cladding to create the final product.

About 30 percent of glulam beams and trusses manufactured in the U.S. are used in commercial and institutional construction, a sizeable increase over the past five years, according to the American Institute of Timber Construction.

Glued laminated wood arches, beams and trusses also are a renewable resource, because foresters plant 5 million trees each day in the United States to ensure a future supply of wood. This contrasts with steel and concrete, which deplete natural resources.

The AITC notes that a dramatic, exposed timber ceiling combines economy with an aesthetic environment. It also avoids the need for fire protection wrapping that would be required for steel construction.

Glued laminated timbers are a stress-rated, engineered wood product comprised of wood laminations, or "lams," bonded together with strong, waterproof adhesive. This means that no large, old-growth trees are needed in the fabrication of the beams.

Story and photo courtesy of American Institute of Timber Construction. For more information on laminated timbers, contact the AITC at 7012 S. Revere Parkway, #140 Centennial, CO, 80112;