Chemeketa’s Agricultural Complex Makes Lasting Impression with Freres’ Mass Ply


In the local Native American language of the Kalapuya, Chemeketa translates as “place of peace” and Chemeketa Community College interprets the meaning as “gathering place.”

Chemeketa needed a new gathering place to meet the current and future needs of its growing agricultural program, and they needed it “yesterday.” According to President Jessica Howard, the new agricultural complex was designed to serve as a hub for students, industry professionals and the community. Mass timber was selected to build much of the new Agricultural Hub which houses more classes, new facilities and labs to better train students to meet the needs of farms and nurseries in its region.


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The construction team chose to build the 14,000 sq. foot complex with Freres’ HD Mass Ply Panels for fast construction, locally-sourced materials and aesthetic purposes.. Intending to create a facility with a connection to nature, Freres’ new high-quality, HD Mass Ply was used for the complex and pavillion beams and ceilings, as well as benches, tables, desks and doors.

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The outside pavilion utilized the structural capabilities of the Freres’ panels to allow for extreme cantilevers in the building design.

Coupled with the natural feeling of being surrounded by wood, the architect incorporated passive ventilation options as part of the biophilic design elements. Natural ventilation forces, such as the buoyancy of hot air and wind to encourage airflow through the property, can be used to extract moist stale air and replace it with fresh, clean air.

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Three-quarters of the Mass Ply ceiling tiles were “flown” into place in one day.

The building construction includes concrete foundations, slab on grade, steel, mass timber and conventional wood framing systems. Building with mass timber shortened the construction significantly, so the new ag complex would open in time for the upcoming school term.

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Every piece of Mass Ply that could be used was incorporated into the project, down to the manufacturing of desks, tables and sliding barn doors that were works of art.
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Mass Ply gives the space a modern look with a good portion of the ceiling exposed, including the entrance area called the Hub Lounge. Freres Lumber proudly embraced the meaning of Chemeketa as they helped build a comprehensive, peaceful “gathering place” for the college’s new agricultural complex.

Download a PDF of the Chemeketa Community College Case Study

Project Summary


Chemeketa Community College’s Agricultural program needed a facility to accommodate new classes for its growing student population and to better meet the training needs of farms and nurseries in its region. The college wanted a complex made of locally-sourced materials, using a biophilic design that wouuld last 100 years — all to be completed in just two months.


The construction team chose to speed up the building process by using mass timber for most of its beams and ceiling tiles. Freres’ HD Mass Ply Panels were selected for the ceiling tiles, beams, doors, desks, tables and benches. This allowed Chemeketa to leave much of the beautiful, locally-sourced wood exposed.


The mass timber portion of the project sped up the construction timeline significantly. Thirtythree of the 40 Mass Ply ceiling tiles, approximately 12,320 sq. ft., were set in one day. Mass Ply was used throughout the project, contributing to the natural design elements structurally, as well as in the creation of artistic, custom desks, tables and doors.


Architect: FFA Architecture
Locally sourced materials: Brick exterior from Brooks
Glu-lam sourced from Rosboro Vaughn
Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers
Contractor: Swinterton
Mass Timber Manufacturer: Freres Engineered Wood
Completed: January 2021