The House of Learning project at Thompson Rivers University is rolling toward completion as hundreds of logs are being transformed into the roof of the auditorium.
As a nod to the culture of the Interior Salish people, the auditorium is a 321-seat room reminiscent of traditional pit houses — known in the Chinook language as kekuli.
As did the native people of the land on which TRU sits, the wood is used as the rafters for the conical roof.
The auditorium, however, is using 492 pine-beetle-ravaged logs harvested in the forest between Kamloops and Merritt.
Vonbots Construction project co-ordinator Paul Bradford said using the logs is economical as well as esthetically pleasing.
“There’s not much demand for beetle kill,” he said, noting the wood not used or exported is burned or simply thrown out.
“But, it’s about being self-sustaining and, structurally, it’s just as good as the live trees that aren’t diseased.”
Also as the Salish people did, the roof will be topped with earth and grass, creating a living roof for gardens.
In addition to the traditional First Nations aspects, the $32-million, 63,000 square-foot library will also meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold standards.
The four-storey building will include work and study spaces, offices, a small cafe, designated book spaces and unique environmental features, like an atrium, living wall and solar panels.
The building is expected to be complete by early 2011.