Project DescriptionA new educational building for the University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources at the Pitkin Nursery constructed entirely out of wood products from the State of Idaho.
Inspired by the constraint of using locally sourced forest product, a straightforward conceptual approach was developed: a wood box, raised off of the ground plane screened with a modern interpretation of the western storefront. The Nursery Sales Office cantilevers out beyond the screen as the public element of the project. Stairs and a ramp reach out to the landscape leading to the entry which contains the social gathering space, with fireplace and kitchen. The classroom is located to the west. A 12’-0” sliding door connects the classroom to the social space. A large deck overlooks the nursery operations to the south. Faculty offices line the south wall. The interior is clad with veneered wood panels, each wood species highlighting a particular Idaho wood species. The custom designed windows frame views to the nursery operations and Palouse.
The State of Idaho produces high quality wood building products such as dimensional framing lumber, cedar siding, engineered I-joists and glu-lam beams. However, no one has attempted to build a contemporary building entirely from only Idaho forest products. Challenges unique to the project included the flooring material and the windows. The architect began researching the native wood species of Idaho to determine a thoughtful solution. Western Larch, commonly known as tamarack was the selection for the flooring. The hardest of the softwoods and commonly used in Scandinavia, larch was harvested from the University of Idaho’s experimental forest, dried in university kilns and milled specifically for the flooring throughout the classroom building.