A Model Home

Creating the First Mass-Timber, Tall, Wood, Living Building in the Inland Northwest


The W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation is seeking support for a new building as a companion to the 1923 Pinchot Forestry Building that houses 20 percent of our program. While necessary for program growth, this is more than just a building. We are proposing a highly innovative, sustainable, wood-based structure that will serve as a demonstration of innovation in wood technology and sustainable forest management, showcase Montana industry, provide our faculty and students with a state-of-the-art research and learning center, and embrace our past, present and future as a leader in natural resource and environmental sciences.

The backdrop: Increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall conditions cause drought and dry conditions that, along with a shift in forest management strategies on federal lands, has greatly increased the risk of catastrophic wildfires across the inland Northwest. This puts homes and livelihoods at risk and puts more carbon back into the atmosphere, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Meanwhile, small towns across the West are struggling with the decline of traditional industries like forest products, resulting in a steady shift of populations from rural to urban centers. In Montana, these two glaring problems overlap – and the solution may, as well. Working together, individuals from the university, industrial, and environmental sectors can increase forest health, create jobs in rural communities, and create beautiful, smart structures that store carbon. As the West’s oldest academic forestry program, the Franke College can and will serve as a leader in creating a bright future.

reducedcarbonfootprint.jpgOur approach? Build a new forestry facility that showcases our progressive research and education in natural resource sciences, innovative strategies for sustainable forest management, a resilient and integrated forest industry, and a new path forward in green building design. 

This new building – framed and built with cross-laminated timber – will be unlike any other in Montana and will demonstrate one path to sustainability: harvesting our forests in a strategic way that promotes forest health, sequesters carbon and provides an inexpensive, renewable resource for construction. It will also show how the timber and wood product manufacturing industries can flourish again throughout the Northwest – our building will be made with Montana wood, processed in a Montana mill using technology from a Montana company. 

With donor support, we are now in the predesign phase, turning our vision into an achievable reality. 

The W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation will be a case study for others. Where we lead, they will follow.

The next generation of sustainable forest management starts here. Join us in thinking big and being bold in our pursuit of a sustainable future. We are seeking leadership gifts to initiate construction of this remarkable new facility.

What is CLT?

Cross-laminated timber is an engineered wood panel that is redefining the building industry. Developed in Europe over 20 years
ago, CLT is now in demand across North America as a lighter, low carbon, renewable and sustainable building material. The product rivals the strength and durability of steel and concrete.

The Living Building Challenge

Our new facility will be entered into this certification program, the most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings. Only 12 buildings in the U.S. are Living Buildings, and this certification would put Montana on the map.

For more information, contact Ben Super, Director of Development at  ben.super@supportum.org  or 406.243.5533.

Visit the UM Foundation.