FPL Researcher Featured in Engineering News-Record

A rendering of the 25-story Ascent building currently under construction in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo credit: Korb + Associates
Laura Hasburgh
Building and Fire Sciences
Materials Research Engineer

Engineering News-Record recently featured Forest Products Laboratory’s (FPL) materials research engineer, Laura Hasburgh and her expert consultation on the Ascent construction project in Milwaukee. At 25 stories, the Ascent building is making history as the soon-to-be tallest timber building in the world. And because of its unprecedented height and exposed mass timber interior, Hasburgh was contacted to lend her fire testing expertise.

The top eighteen floors of the Ascent will be framed in mass timber and the interior architectural design features exposed glued-laminated timber (glulam) framing and cross-laminated timber (CLT) slabs to showcase the natural beauty of the wood. But with these design and material choices, the Ascent’s fire safety planning needed to be carefully considered.

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FPL Researcher Featured on National Public Radio

Brian Brashaw
Forest Products Marketing Unit
Program Manager

Forest Products Laboratory’s (FPL) Brian Brashaw was featured in an National Public Radio (NPR) segment about the soon-to-be world’s tallest timber building currently under construction in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Ascent building will boast 25 stories, 18 of which will be framed in mass timber. The upscale apartment complex is slated for completion in 2022. Right now, the cement foundation is being laid. Brashaw anticipates the Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) “to start flying,” or rather, construction crane hoisted pre-fabricated mass timber sections to begin installation in early summer 2021.  

FPL is excited about its participation in helping the Ascent rise among the tallest modern wood structures in the world.

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An Iconic Wisconsin Landmark Rises Again and Takes Flight: The Eagle Tower Project

The original Eagle Tower, erected in 1932 in Peninsula State Park – Photo Credit: Yinan Chen – Friends of the Peninsula State Park

If you live in Wisconsin, chances are that you at least know of Eagle Tower. More likely, you—along with thousands of visitors from around the world—have had indelible experiences of taking in spectacular views of Lake Michigan, the surrounding islands, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Eagle tower offered a captivating and much beloved panorama of Peninsula State Park.

Built in 1932, the observation tower was a 76-foot timber structure. But in 2015 the tower’s deteriorating state caused the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to have serious concerns about its structural integrity and safety. The Wisconsin DNR asked Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) to assess the structure. “Nondestructive Assessment of Wood Members from a Historic Viewing Tower” is a detailed publication of their findings on Eagle Tower’s condition.

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A New Approach to Bridge Inspection and Safety

Unmanned aerial vehicle – Digital image correlation (UAV-DIC) System

Forest Products Laboratory’s (FPL) researcher James Wacker with collaborators from the Department of Civil Environmental Engineering, South Dakota State University are working on a new approach to inspecting bridges that will allow inspections to one day be more cost-efficient, easier to conduct, more accessible, and safer for motorists and inspectors alike. The journal article, “New Bridge Inspection Approach with Joint UAV and DIC System,” was published in Structures Congress 2020.

Our nation’s bridges have been under an every-two-year mandated inspection for nearly 50 years. The current method of inspecting bridges is accomplished largely by visual assessment often using costly snooper trucks. Wacker describes this approach as “a passive approach that has provided subjective and unreliable data.”

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Salvaging an American Icon with Ground-Penetrating Radar

Two Route 66 signs on the road at California Mojave desert highway – By AR Pictures

Imagine being able to look straight into a wood beam and know its structural integrity.

It’s almost like a super power, except its really just amazing science—science that Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) researchers are practicing in order to be at the forefront of investigative timber safety and restoration.

During a recent study, “Ground-Penetrating Radar Investigation of Salvaged Timber Girders from Bridges Along Route 66 in California,” FPL’s Adam Senalik, James Wacker, and Xiping Wang along with colleagues from Jiangnan University School of IoT Engineering, were able to practice this amazing science on two bridges located on Route 66.

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