Simpson Strong-Tie Demonstrations Laboratory


The College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo completed the bulk of the new $18M Construction Innovation Center in the mid-2000’s. In the latter part of the decade, it was planned to add a Materials Laboratory for use of the College’s students and faculty to finish the Center’s facilities. Originally planned to be a steel building, it was a major design divergence when major donor — Simpson Strong-Tie — secured naming rights to the structure. The building is a Heavy Timber Braced Frame Lateral Resisting System, built during a time when the former Uniform Building Code was the governing code and this type of lateral system was an allowable prescriptive solution. When the International Building Code became the model code, this type of system was removed from a prescriptive solution. Thus, complete seismic design criteria and research was submitted to the CSU Seismic Peer Reviewer for the use of this non-standard lateral system. The unique use of Heavy Timber Structure, exposed as both structural system and aesthetic feel brings the inside out and the outside in with its use of translucent polycarbonate panels.  The intent was to engross passing students on adjacent upper walkways with views of the activities inside the Laboratory. Special portions of this project include major mat slab foundation with embedded anchorage points for student projects, exterior cladding demonstration frame, 28-foot tall custom sliding high bay doors, and custom articulating second floor bridge to the existing building.