How Georgia Tech is educating tomorrow’s mass timber experts.
The future of mass timber architecture might be sitting in Russell Gentry’s classroom. Gentry, a professor at Georgia Tech’s schools of Architecture and Civil Engineering, leads a mass timber studio where student teams are developing designs for a Georgia Forestry Foundation mass timber exhibition. The studio brings together students in architecture, engineering and construction for a hands-on experience designing with and fabricating mass timber.
“If we’re going to make mass timber ubiquitous, it’s going to require the contributions of all three disciplines,” Gentry says in a video about the studio. “It’s important for the outcome of the project to have all of them represented, and it’s also important for students to learn to work with one another.”
Gentry sees mass timber ubiquity as a goal due to mass timber’s sustainability advantages. His work is helping students graduate with an appreciation of wood’s aesthetic, carbon-reducing, and health benefits.
“Seasoned professionals have not grown up with the expertise to design with mass timber,” Gentry says. “With these new students, they’re going to be in a position to understand and have tactile experience with mass timber.” As mass timber grows increasingly common in projects designed by AEC firms in Atlanta and the southeast, Gentry foresees many of those buildings being designed by Georgia Tech’s own engineers.
Georgia Tech is also leading by example through its construction of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design. Built to Living Building Challenge standards and winner of a WoodWorks Wood Design Award in 2021, the Kendeda Building is the first timber structure built at Georgia Tech since the 1880s. Architects at the Miller Hull Partnership, in collaboration with Lord Aeck Sargent, designed the building with an array of wood products, including NLT decking, glulam beams and columns, and salvaged wood.
With the support of the Softwood Lumber Board (who fund and operate the Wood Institute), Georgia Forestry Foundation is on a mission to advance mass timber in Georgia, and especially to educate the next generation of architecture and engineering students. In turn, the students’ work on the educational mass timber pavilion will help raise awareness about the benefits of Georgia’s important timber resources as the exhibition travels to locations throughout the state.
Video about the mass timber studio
Video about the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design