110 Years of FPL: Fancy Flooring of the ’50s

In celebration of 110 years of research at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), we are revisiting blog posts that detail some of our most interesting historic people, places, and projects. Enjoy!

In the 1950s, FPL researchers were challenged with how to use waste wood as flooring.

During the wood flooring manufacturing process, many of the cut pieces were too short to be used as conventional flooring, so researchers demonstrated ways of combining short pieces of wood into designs that could be installed in decorative ways, just like tiles.

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110 Years of FPL: Early Fire Retardant Treatments

In celebration of 110 years of research at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), we are revisiting blog posts that detail some of our most interesting historic people, places, and projects. Enjoy!

In the early days of developing fire-retardant treatments, researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) investigated about 130 treatments. Combinations of chemicals were used to obtain the best performance for both fire resistance and other performance properties, such as corrosion, leaching, gluing, finishing, and cost.

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110 Years of FPL: Laminated Wood Products

In celebration of 110 years of research at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), we are revisiting blog posts that detail some of our most interesting historic people, places, and projects. Enjoy!

FPL’s pioneering work on the engineering design of glued-laminated construction helped launch the laminating industry in the United States. Much of the research on laminated wood originated at the time of the first World War when the Bureau of Aircraft Production approached FPL with a need for lightweight airplane wings.

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Remembering Former FPL Director Robert Youngs

Robert L. Youngs, director of the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) from 1975-1985, passed away Saturday, April 25, 2020 in Blacksburg, Virginia at the age of 96.

Robert L. Youngs, FPL Director 1975-1985

Bob first heard of the Lab when he was studying wood technology as an undergrad at the College of Forestry at Syracuse. FPL’s famed Wood Handbook was one of his textbooks. Later, as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Bob’s advisor had previously worked at FPL, and Bob recalled he “was very effusive in his praise of the Laboratory as a place to work.”

Upon graduation, Bob wrote to FPL inquiring about work, but there were no positions available. One year later, he inquired again and his timing was right. FPL had just received some extra funding related to the Korean War, and Bob was hired on to work in wood drying. He continued in this line of research, even studying it as he earned his Ph.D. from Yale, and eventually helped developed the original Dry Kiln Operator’s Manual, one of the Lab’s most popular publications. 

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110 Years of FPL: Our Historic Home

In celebration of 110 years of research at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), we are revisiting blog posts that detail some of our most interesting historic people, places, and projects. Enjoy!

Between 1931 and 1932, a new home for FPL was designed and built about a mile west from its first long-term home on the University of Wisconsin (UW) campus. On a site situated adjacent to UW, in the middle of a corn field, the Chicago architectural firm of Holabird and Root planned a design for the state-of-the-art laboratory.

The newly constructed Forest Products Laboratory rose up out of the countryside to the west of the University of Wisconsin.

According to A History of the Architecture of the USDA Forest Service, Building One on the FPL campus “typifies the American Perpendicular or Modernistic phase of the Art Deco style as it was applied to commercial design.” The building is a stand-alone structure of steel and concrete and has a U-shaped plan.

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