Timber Provides Rustic Interior

Staff | September 28, 2010

Many new outdoor merchandise stores are being designed with exposed timber interiors that harmonize with the products they sell.

Timber beams and trusses provide a rustic warmth for retail store interiors. Glued laminated timbers are often specified for exposed applications because they can span more than 100 feet, and are also used as components in large truss assemblies.

Cabela's Retail Centers appeal to buyers of outdoor gear by emphasizing massive wood timbers rather than concrete, steel or glass.


Cabela's new retail store under construction in Gonzales, La., is typical of the trend. It is a 170,000-square-foot facility with highly visible timber trusses which dominate the interior.

In addition to its hunting and fishing gear and outdoor apparel, the company describes the facility as an "educational and entertainment attraction, featuring a decor of museum-quality animal displays, huge aquariums and trophy animals in realistic recreations of their natural habitats." Founded in 1963, Cabela's has 30 stores nationwide today, with another 12 locations under construction.

Engineering/Design Challenges

The designers describe the design of the Gonzales store as "bringing the outdoors indoors," with the glued laminated wood trusses providing the visual effect of a North Woods lodge. The architect and engineer worked with the laminator, Structural Wood Systems, in designing the trusses as well as the metal connections.

Design Approach

The design achieves the effect of a combination hunting lodge and cathedral on the interior. The truss roof system provides a rustic environment in combination with native stone and natural light that is consistent with the hunting, camping, and fishing equipment and apparel sold at Cabela's. Installed cost of the exposed laminated trusses was competitive with steel, and it helped achieve faster construction.

Massive Trusses

The huge glued laminated trusses which are the signature of this unique retail store span up to 56 feet with 6-3/4-inch by 16-inch top and bottom chords.

The roof system is supported by three types of massive exposed structural and decorative glulam trusses that support laminated timber purlins. It is the first Cabela's built with Southern Pine glulam. The roof is laminated decking.

All the exposed timbers were factory pre-stained to match Cabela's colors and interior decor.

The center 56-foot-wide display is spanned by double pitched trusses. Along each side wing are 56-foot single tapered trusses with a clear span at one end, supported by 32-foot parallel chord trusses with 6-3/4-inch by 18-inch top and bottom chords.

Trent Bosard of Cabela's says the timber roof design provides more useable retail space with fewer interior columns because of the long spans of the glulam trusses. "The rustic interior is a trademark of the Cabela's design," he says. The trusses rest on two sets of columns down the center of the store. The columns are wrapped in stone.

The contractor is Yates Construction, and the erector is Lane Holland Sales.

The interior features hundreds of wildlife displays including animal replicas, mounts and natural habitat dioramas. The parking lot holds 1,000 cars, and the store is expected to draw three million visitors a year.

For more information on designing with laminated timbers, visit www.aitc-glulam.org.