Showing posts from August, 2016

Great Designs in Wood (72) - The (New) Tallest Wooden Building in the World

Based on the architectural trends, this is a post that will be updated frequently, as we'll probably have a new leader in the wooden skyscraper race every year or so from now on. This year the focus is on the new Brock Commons building at the University of British Columbia, which you may recall we visited last year. It was just topped off this past week, with full construction of the eighteen floors completed in just sixty-six days after the completion of the structure's concrete central cores.

The building is a showcase of a bunch of leading edge technology:
"Anticipated to be the tallest mass timber hybrid building in the world at 53 metres, Brock Commons is an 18-storey student residence located at the University of British Columbia. Designed as a kit-of-parts, the structure comprises 16 floors of five-ply cross laminated timber (CLT) floor panels, a concrete transfer slab, and a steel framed roof." -…

Dennis Brett - A Lifetime of Collecting Wood Specimens Lives On

Back in 1946, or so, a young lad began to collect odd pieces of wood he found around his home in the Bronx. He never stopped.

And now, thanks to his desire to leave that collection to future generations of wood lovers and scientists to study, the collection resides at Penn State. The university recently did a nice article on the donation, so you can view Dennis's story at the link below.

Thanks, Dennis. We'll work to make sure the spirit of your collecting efforts are honored in our ongoing use and maintenance of the collection.

The work of integrating the Brett collection into the Penn State Xylarium will continue over the next year or so, and if you would like to stop by sometime and see the whole thing, schedule an appointment with me sometime in the future. I'm always eager to rifle through pieces of wood with visitors.

Private gift makes Penn State's wood collection one of world's largest

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Great Designs in Wood (71) - Nakashima Woodworks

Here's an excellent story on famed furniture designer George Nakashima and his daughter, Mira, who has carried on his legacy in their workshop near Philadelphia. If you don't get wood before now, perhaps you will after watching the video.

What Mr. Nakashima did by reflecting his life story through his work, and how he passed it along to his daughter, is an inspiration to us all.

And he did it by Going Wood.

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Great Designs in Wood (70) - The Amazing Marble Music Machine - Wintergatan

Have you ever watched your young one, fiddling away the hours with Legos or watching endless YouTube videos on how to do something? Well, now you know what it all may lead to.

The group Wintergatan (Swedish for The Milky Way) is "a Swedish folktronica band" from Goteburg. They play, well, folktronica music. Yeah, I know, another new thing you've never heard of. You're getting used to that by now, aren't you?

But the genius of this group is that they invented a new instrument on which to play their music, and they were inspired by old wooden music boxes and marble machines. You put them together with instruments, some electronic technology, and you have something that you have to see to believe.

To get in the mood, watch a short video of them making the machine...

Now, watch the music video of the machine, and its master, in action.

The neat thing about the project, from a Go Wood point of view, is that the group realized early on that the weak link of traditional…

Wood Science 101 (26) - The Wood-Wide Web

Most of us that have studied the cellular structure of wood know that the topic can be a bit, well, dry. There are dozens of technical terms that mean nothing outside a wood technology textbook, coupled with line drawings and pictures that try to give the reader a sense of how all those cells go together and grow. But, like the study of physics, it's all a bit difficult to grasp when looking at a tree or running your hand along the smooth arm of a wooden rocker.

But one woodworker has stumbled on to a wonderful way to visually display how a tree really goes together. He started out by applying his love of wood turning to the task of seeing how thin a cross-section of wood he could turn. Once he had his extra-thin disc, he probably noticed that the less dense early wood tended to crumble away as he got too thin...leaving a web-like skeleton of a tree in his hands. Being an electrical engineer, he was probably familiar with the high-tech machines that are used to put a fine sand-bla…

Great Designs in Wood (73) - "Hollow" by Katie Paterson: A Vision in Wood Comes to Life

Here's a nice story. Artist Katie Paterson of the UK had a vision of a work in wood that would represent all the trees of the entire world as they evolved over time. What she was able to create was really stunning...not only are over 10,000 species represented, but she put the pieces all together in a way that actually makes one feel like you're inside the stem of a tree, looking at the individual cells of that make up the trunk.

And Go Wood readers had a part in the creation. Ms. Paterson spoke to the attendees of our World of Wood 2015 conference last summer, and several responded with donations to the project. Two are mentioned in the following BBC video - Gary Green and Robert Ritchie, both long-time members of the International Wood Collectors Society and participants in our conference last year.

It's nice to see the wood specimens displayed in such a way that may speak to so many people who might be bored to death if they walked into the typical wood collection room.…

Great Designs in Wood (69) - The Haas-Lilienthal House of San Francisco

I don't think we've yet had a Victorian home on our GDiW series. There's a simple reason for that...we've focused on homes and products that might inspire new houses and products. Unfortunately, they just won't build homes like this anymore. And that's a shame.

But there is a reason for it. The intricate workmanship that went into these 19th century beauties just doesn't seem to be as valued today as it once was. At least, not valued enough to cover the costs associated with building and maintaining such wonderful dwellings. It's not uncommon to go through old towns in America and see one or more old beauties in serious stages of dilapidation, even while still being lived in. Seems like the modern economy just can't support these works of art in the numbers it once did.

But at least in San Francisco, the community got together and decided to save one of the best.

The video above highlights the superficial facelift given the house to highlight its or…

How Many Trees are There in the World?

Here's an interesting example of scientific news, that on its surface, sounds good. The video informs us that a new study reveals that there are 3.07 trillion trees in the world...more than 8 times more than scientists previously thought.

So, you would think, then, that the message from the people at Nature would be one of relief. But the story narrated continues to push concern that we're "currently losing about 10 billion trees per year", and that "if we keep going at this rate, a walk in the woods will soon become a lot trickier."

Well, let's do some math here. Ten billion trees is 0.3% of the 3.07 trillion trees they say we have. If we continued to "lose" trees at that rate, we would have 1/3 fewer trees (only 2 trillion) in 100 years. That would still be five times more trees than scientists thought we had until this study was published.

But let's dig a little deeper. I wondered how the folks at arrived at the ten billion t…

"Wood - It Really Is The Future"

Here's a nice video from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute.  A little over-dramatic in places, perhaps, but most of the video is right on target. It correctly points out the effective role in carbon utilization and sequestration of wood buildings and the fact that our forest area is as large today as it was a century ago. It's an inconvenient fact for some that has been overlooked but ultimately will be accepted as truth in public perception, thanks to infomercials such as this.

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