New school construction project using MPP

January 11, 2021

New Construction Project 

Santiam Canyon School District carried out the first new school construction project using MPP. General contractors Gerding Builders and TGC Structural, along with project manager HMK Company, successfully used Mass Ply Panels throughout the project. With MPP walls in the Santiam Elementary servery, and MPP walls, roof, beams and columns featured in the new Santiam Junior/Senior High School gymnasium, the Mill City, Oregon schools are now a showcase for the variety of MPP uses.

Like many public schools across the country, Oregon’s Santiam Canyon School District faced aging facilities that no longer accommodated its growing student population. The rural district needed innovative ways to make multiple improvements and add square footage with quality construction and a reasonable budget. The only way to afford capital improvements of this size was to go out for a bond levy. In May 2019, voters approved the $17.9M bond; construction began in March 2020.

new school construction Santiam Elementary School servery (cafeteria), where MPP is being used in exterior walls

The district sought new and innovative construction methods, and they looked to local industries to build a new junior/senior high school, add an elementary school cafeteria, add a gymnasium and make various site improvements for its schools.

new school construction

The new Santiam Junior/Senior High School gym features MPP beams and columns; and MPP was used for the walls and roof, as well.

By using Modern Building Systems’ factory-built components and Freres Lumber Co.’s new Mass Ply Panels, the district was able to save money. A significant amount of labor was done off-site, saving on costs and allowing for quicker construction. These are just a few of the many benefits using MPP.” 

Local Products

Using the locally conceived and produced MPP added an important element of community pride that helped pass a bond levy in a district that had never supported such a levy,” said SCSD Superintendent Todd Miller.  “The product itself is impressive, but when you also consider that it is locally produced, it is sure to be a subject of pride for our community. The support of Freres and their contributions to our project will ensure a successful end product for our community and our students.”

The Santiam project, designed and lead by Soderstrom Architecture, had unique challenges. From an engineering standpoint, Freres enjoyed the challenge of achieving a 72’ beam span to support the school’s gymnasium roof.  A steel plate splice in the MPP beam was the solution, engineered by ZCS Engineering.

new school construction

Benches made of MPP featured throughout the Santiam Junior/Senior High School.

This school construction project achieved the added capacity the district needed, keeping construction dollars local and showcasing the new locally produced MPP.  Freres’s MPP helped expedite the construction process for the Santiam Elementary School servery, erected in just four days, and the Santiam Junior/Senior High School gym, built in 15 days.

In the Santiam Canyon, a rural timber town, using local wood products was a key factor in gaining community support. It’s an honor that the Santiam Canyon School District chose Freres Lumber for such a critical role in its school construction project.


Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller, PR Manager