Timber Provides Rustic Interiors For Cabela's

By Don Jaenicke | September 28, 2010

Cabela's Retail Centers appeal to buyers of outdoor gear by emphasizing massive wood timbers rather than concrete, steel or glass. Most of Cabela's new retail stores cover at least 150,000 square feet to 170,000 square feet.

In addition to its hunting and fishing gear and outdoor apparel, the company describes its facilities as an "educational and entertainment attraction, featuring museum-quality animal displays, huge aquariums and trophy animals in realistic recreations of their natural habitats." Founded in 1963, Cabela's has 20 stores nationwide today, with another 12 locations in development.

Other Western stores planned or under construction include Wheat Ridge, Colo., and Post Falls, Idaho.

Engineering/Design Challenges

The architects describe the design of the Reno 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, Timberweld Inc., in designing the trusses as well as the metal connections.

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 the timber helped achieve faster construction.

Massive Trusses

The huge glued laminated trusses which are the signature of this unique store span up to 60 feet with 6-3/4-inch by 18-inch top and bottom chords.

The roof system is framed by three types of exposed structural and decorative glulam trusses that support laminated timber purlins and are covered with select grade Douglas fir laminated decking. All the exposed timbers were factory pre-stained to match the Cabela's colors and interior decor.

The center 60-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.

The stone and wood materials used in the store help provide natural-looking aesthetics and avoid the warehouse effect sometimes seen in retail stores.

The laminated timber roof deck is covered by insulation board and metal finished roofing.

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.

J. Isaacs of Layton Construction, Salt Lake City, the contractor, says the challenge of the building was to create a "huge retail store with an outdoor feel." Observers note that Cabela's has achieved a warm contrast with other outdoor-oriented retailers who build steel-framed stores that look like a shopping mall.

The interior features hundreds of wildlife displays, including animal replicas, mounts and natural habitat dioramas. In addition to the large selection of outdoor gear, there is a a 125-seat restaurant, art gallery and firearm training system. The parking lot holds 1,000 cars, and the store is expected to draw 3 million visitors a year.

Cabela's says the business has grown from simple beginnings at Sidney, Neb., in 1963 to become the largest mail order outdoor outfitter in the world.

For more information on designing with laminated timbers, contact: American Institute of Timber Construction, 7012 S. Revere Parkway, #140 Englewood, CO 80112, phone (303) 792-9559, fax (303) 792-0669 or online www.aitc-glulam.org.



Architect: Crabtree, Rohrbach & Associates, AIA, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Contractor: Layton Construction, Sandy (Salt Lake City), Utah

Glued Laminated Timber Truss Supplier: Timberweld Inc., Columbus, Mont.