Last month, two of our team members, principal Shawn Robérge and engineer Keva Rollins, had the privilege of touring the Freres facility in Lyons, OR with our friends and project partners LMN Architects. The visit was inspired by our work on the Woodland Park Zoo Forest Trailhead project, which uses mass plywood panels (MPP) fabricated by Freres Engineered Wood.

The folks at Freres Engineered Wood guided a tour of their manufacturing plant. The team was astounded by the amount of timber that went through the process. Logs were sent into a machine that peeled them like a toilet paper roll unfurling, transforming the logs into a thin sheet, or a veneer, that the plywood panels would be made from. After this “peeling” process, the veneers were glued together to create panels, some up to 2ft in thickness!

Our team was especially impressed with the Freres plant’s efficiency and sustainability processes. The factory processes an impressive number of logs, 65 trucks per shift. Most of the logs are sourced nearby, and there is very little waste created in making the panels. Freres uses any leftover wood chips from the manufacturing process to create their own electricity on-site, making enough energy to run their own plant and sending the excess back to the city.

The Forest Trailhead at the Woodland Park Zoo is a new 27,500 square feet exhibit is a conservation-focused forest experience. The exhibit focuses on the zoo’s conservation work in Papua New Guinea that works with local Papua New Guinea communities to protect the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo and its habitat. The project is targeting LEED New Construction Gold.