Project File: Natural aesthetics

Wood End Elementary School, Reading, Mass., features interior spaces that express a natural, rustic-wood ambience. The 60,000-square-foot school has 13 classrooms and will accommodate 450 students. The building also has a cafetorium, library, media center, music center, gymnasium and administrative offices.

Students and staff like the openness provided by the exposed timbers, says school superintendent Patrick Schettini. Many of the mechanical systems also have been left exposed, providing students with a visible example of creative design for an instructional building.

The glulam theme continues on the school's exterior with timber framing for the canopies at the bus stop. The structure was designed with minimum-size laminated timbers to partially conceal the steel connections.

The ceiling is made of laminated decking to continue the wood theme. Aside from its attractive appearance, the decking also eliminated the need for a dropped ceiling, which would have been needed to cover the metal if the building had been framed with steel.

The architect for this project is Flansburgh Associates, Inc. (Boston). The laminated timber was supplied by Trus Joist, a Weyerhaeuser Business (Boise, Idaho).

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