Design for parking garage made of wood wins Oregon Best award

The proposed parking garage that won the Oregon Best contest (Courtesy of the City of Springfield)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The City of Springfield has plans to construct an innovative parking garage - made of wood.

The design has earned accolades from the clean technology industry.

The idea is to build a parking garage in the Glenwood area, using a new engineered wood product called cross laminated timber, or CLT.

The City recently entered their design in a contest put on by a company called Oregon Best, and Springfield came out on top.

Winning came with a $155,000 prize, which will subsidize design work and go toward necessary testing.

"It's a very exciting project for us," said Courtney Griesel, Springfield's Economic Development Manager. "Because not only does it meet a very important infrastructure need for the redevelopment, but it also allows us to showcase a really innovative material in the U.S."

CLTs are made from panels of low grade timber that would otherwise be shipped over seas.

The panels are glued and pressed together to form a building block of sorts.

"The grains of wood are running in different directions and it's important, because this is where the extra strength in the panel comes from," Griesel explained.

Experts say CLTs can replace other common construction materials like steel and concrete, getting the job done while releasing fewer emissions.

CLT has been used in European countries for years, but it's relatively new to the United States.

Just last year, D.R. Johnson Lumber in Riddle, Ore., became the country's first supplier of CLT.

The open design of the 360 car parking garage would showcase large panels of the wood product, but why build a parking garage in Glenwood?

City officials say the garage is part of a redevelopment plan for the entire Glenwood Riverfront area.

"We're talking about roadways, we're talking about parks," Griesel said. "Redevelopment with mixed use and even hotels, and all of these things require parking."

Griesel says the city is getting close to turning their plans for Glenwood into actions.

The city hopes to get developers on board by next year.

An 8-story Portland condominium was runner up in the Oregon Best contest.

When completed, the condominium will be the tallest CLT building in the country.

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