I had the opportunity, along with James Lanzisereo and Mark Oldham, to travel to M. Bohlke Veneers in Cincinnati, Ohio to select wood flitches for the Amherst College New Science Center. The Science Center is scheduled to open the summer of 2018 and bring Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics & Astronomy and Psychology Departments together in a new, transparent home.
Our goal for the project is to utilize pre-selected veneer from a single supplier for all required wood within the New Science Center. Working alongside M. Bohlke Veneers’ Dan Whittelse and our CM, Barr & Barr, throughout the bidding phase, we were able to achieve this goal with all the subconsultants working on the project.
Back in December, Dan visited our office with a few dozen varying flitches of rift cut white oak veneer. Our team narrowed the selection down to a handful veneers that would fit the needs for our project. The flitches were then sent to Precision Veneers, the panel makers for both our millworker (Millwork One) and our wood casework manufacturers (CiF and NEIS). Despite the different finishing processes for both manufactures, the sample panels produced were a great match. The finished panel samples then allowed us to further hone in on the desired grain, sweep and color of the veneer that would create the desired effects we envisioned for the New Science Center.
Dan took this feedback and built eight pallets – over 300,000 SF! – of veneer bundles for us to flip and grade at the facility in Cincinnati.
We were joined in Ohio by Barr&Barr, NEIS, CiF, Millwork One and Precision Veneers. Having folks from all constituencies was key to developing a shared vocabulary for what product would be acceptable and what would be rejected. We spent the majority of our visit “flipping” bundles allowing us to grade each log. The official “flippers” at the facility were clearly pros and made it look effortless despite the many splinters and paper cuts they endure throughout the process.
We each independently graded the logs based on their color, grain, contrast and sweep and then compared our results with all the parties at the end of the day. Because of the advanced research and review done with Dan in December, the pallets were a great representation of the type of veneer we were looking for. We only cut out about 80,000SF of product that didn’t meet our design intent and then prioritized the remaining veneer for our main Commons wall panels, remaining millwork, casework and doors for the New Science Center.
During our visit, we also had the opportunity to tour the veneer facility and learn more about the fascinating process of producing veneer from the initial log selection to the cutting, dying building and pallet building. The facility was very impressive, clean and modern and had beautiful wood artwork throughout the buildings. We were also happy to see the shop is sustainable, as they collect all their scraps in chutes below the floor to burn and heat the buildings.
Dan hosted a flawlessly organized trip for our team and made it easy to choose beautiful veneers for the project. We can’t wait to see how they turn out!