Throwback Thursday: Building With Glued Arches


Laboratory utility building of plywood with glued arches, the first structure of this type in the United States.

The first research at FPL on engineering design data for glued laminated arches was undertaken in 1934, when a number of three-hinged arches were fabricated and installed in what was called Building 2, the packaging research building.

It was no ordinary building—it was built using laminated arches and also included other arches made from wood. The purpose was to provide a useful building but also one in which a visitor could observe different types of arches and see the advantages of design to decrease material and improve aesthetics. It included tests of structural units to check such factors as design formulas and working stresses, and the effect on strength of curvature, scarf joints, and knots in the inner laminations.

Results of this research are presented in United States Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin 691, The Glued Laminated Wooden Arch, which provides the technical data necessary for the use of laminated arches on a sound basis.

The building suffered a major fire in later years, but when the firefighters learned the building was built with wood beams, they were able to save the structure. In 2010, this building was dismantled and the arches were saved for testing.