Glulam Trusses, Beams Help PA Hotel Maintain Rustic Appeal

By Donald Jaenicke | September 28, 2010

As the demand for hotel space increases during the summer season, hotel and motel owners have been working hard to make properties more attractive for their guests. The trend is to upgrade older lodging, which often has an "industrial" look, by adding exposed timber framing that enhances the warmth and ambiance of the building.

The Bear Creek Hotel at Macungie, PA, has long been a popular stopping place for families heading to the Pocono Mountains. The building was recently enlarged with the addition of exterior glulam beams and trusses. The original hotel had 53 rooms, and 64 more were added in the remodeling.

Peter Fillat, Peter Fillat Architects, reports that glulam was specified to complement the extensive use of stone veneer siding. The timber also creates the feel of a rustic ski lodge. Glulam trusses that span 80 feet were designed to decorate the entrances and make them more attractive. The glulam trusses were comprised of double 3.124-foot-by-2.75-foot pieces plated together and thru bolted. Timber columns inside the lobby provide a unique structural and cosmetic enhancement. All the glulam materials were field stained and waterproofed.

Commenting on the use of laminated timber, architect Fillatt says, "We specified the glued laminated timber because it offered a good combination of aesthetic warmth and strength at a competitive cost."

The architect and contractor report that the exposed glulam timber was specified because of its availability, simplicity and rustic warmth. Timber also has an environmental advantage because it is a naturally renewable material with 5 million trees being planted each day.

"We liked the exposed laminated timber because it avoids the "industrial" look of other materials and provides natural aesthetics and strength for long spans," Fillat adds.

Ondra Huyett Associates

Peter Fillat Architects

Structural Engineer: Ryan Design Group

Glulam timber supplier: 
Unadilla Laminated Products

About 30 percent of all 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. (AITC) A major reason why glulam timbers and decking are a force in the market is that the furring, sheathing and finishing often required with steel framing can be eliminated with glulam construction.

Also, when glulam materials arrive at the jobsite prefinished, this delivered product is the finished product. This makes glulam unique 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.