Mitchell O. Carr Symposium

Mitchell O. Carr Symposium:

Creative Use of Wood in Design

Sustainable biomaterials such as wood have become very important to society because of their low carbon foot print, renewability, beauty, aesthetics, and endless possibilities for creating new innovative materials and structures. Given the importance of wood, Mr. Mitchell O. Carr, a retired successful wood products entrepreneur, has joined efforts with Virginia Tech to provide practitioners, students, and academicians with an unique opportunity to learn, explore, understand and appreciate recent developments on wood as a structural and aesthetic material.

The goal of the Carr Symposium and Student Competition is to inspire the next generation of designers, architects, engineers, builders, and wood scientists with the latest innovative uses of wood in structural and interior design applications. During the first three days of the event, multidisciplinary teams of Virginia Tech students will be challenged to design and build a pick-up truck camper built of wood. On the last day of the symposium nationally recognized experts  will present recent innovations on the creative use of wood in the design, engineering, and construction of interiors and structures.

The planning committee is very excited to invite you to join us for this event. The Carr Symposium is intended for students interested in green building construction, materials from renewable resources, interior design, industrial design, and innovations in architecture. The symposium is also a venue for professionals and practitioners to network with students and academicians and to learn about new developments in sustainable biomaterials.

Carr Symposium Poster Bottom Text3_outlined_Page_1

  • Student competition: The Wood Truck Camper. Squire Student Center, March 18-20, 2016.
  • Carr Symposium. The Inn at VT. March 21, 2016. The half day symposium includes World experts in creative use of wood in design:

1:00 pm         Welcome and Introduction

1:15 pm         Roald Gunderson, Whole Tree Architecture and Structures

Roald@GCArchitect Roald Gundersen, has devoted the better part of the last twenty five years exploring sustainable forestry and the architecture of trees. As Co-founder of Whole Trees Architecture and Structures, Gundersen has designed and built over seventy round timber structures: greenhouses, houses, bridges, band-shells, offices, resorts, natural play-scapes, zoo exhibits, and now a large retail grocery store.

According to Gundersen, “The premise behind Whole Trees is the fact that trees are stronger than wood; that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; and that by leaving trees whole we open an abundant and rapidly renewing supply of waste trees: too small, or curved, or wind-bent, and branching to be worth milling. By creating value in the strength and beauty of trees, we can catalyze healthy forests and stronger, more beautiful buildings.”

Gundersen received his Bachelor of Architecture and a BS in Environmental Design from the University of Minnesota. His first timber project was working on the restoration of a hundred year-old timber and masonry cathedral in San Jose, California. He worked as a project architect on the Biosphere 2 in Arizona.

He moved back to his childhood home of La Crosse, WI to begin his design/build business where he spent 20 years experimenting with forestry and natural building, fabricating most of his projects from the cullings off his 134 acre forest. Three years ago, Gundersen and his wife and Co-founder, Amelia Baxter, moved WholeTrees to Madison, Wisconsin, to focus on round timber research and product development in partnership with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, also based in Madison. Last year WholeTrees opened a larger timber processing and fabrication facility an hour outside Madison where most of their projects are produced.

Whole Trees recently won the Barrett Business Plan Contest from the National Forest Foundation for a software platform where digital trees can be seamlessly sourced, engineered and designed into projects as Gundersen says “from the wood to the hood”. He looks forward to sharing more adventures with forests and buildings and how each can benefit the other.

2:00 pm          Tom Chung, Leers Weinzapfel Associates.

Tom_Chung_2015_smTom S. Chung AIA, LEED BD+C is a Principal and design leader at Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects, recipient of AIA Firm Award in 2007. In his over 20 years with the firm, he has been the primary designer for a number of the firm’s most prominent award-winning projects, including the Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital and most recently the Integrated Design Building at University of Massachusetts Amherst, which will be the first composite CLT Mass Timber building in the United States.

Born in Seoul, Korea and raised in the US, he received his degrees in Architecture at the University of Virginia and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Within the firm, Tom is a mentor and advisor to the next generation of young designers and as Adjunct Professor, Tom has taught design studios at Northeastern University School of Architecture and currently teaches a graduate studio at Wentworth Institute of Technology.  Tom is also a critic on design reviews and participant on building conferences and design awards juries nationwide.

2:45 pm         Charles Judd, Blue Heron Timberworks

A timber framer for more than 23 years, Charles has taught at the John C. Campbell folk school in North Carolina for the past 14 years. He also recently completed the CLT installation at the Franklin elementary school project in Franklin, West Virginia. He has participated in national and international timber frame projects, teaches workshops in the U.S. and abroad and is a member of the international timber framers guild.

3:30 pm         Break

4:00 pm        Nathie Katzoff, NK Woodworking Design

Katzoff picTwenty eight year-old Nathie Katzoff is the founder and owner of NK Woodworking. At the age of nineteen, he earned his diploma in wooden boatbuilding from The Landing School of Boatbuilding and Design in Kennebunkport, Maine, one of the premier boatbuilding schools in the country. There he began to develop his mastery in sophisticated woodworking techniques, acquiring such skills as traditional joinery and steam-bending which would later serve him well when he moved into architectural woodworking design and fabrication.

Upon graduation, Nathie relocated to Seattle and concentrated on building and restoring wooden boats, including an historic 47-foot double-masted sailing vessel.  In 2011, he began NK Woodworking in a small one-man shop. His first residential staircase was commissioned in 2012 by acquaintances for their new home. That staircase garnered his first national design award in 2013 from the Stairway Manufacturers Association, the organization of the leading stair builders in North America, and launched the company onto its current trajectory of designing and fabricating architectural art. In 2014, he swept 4 out of 5 Best Staircraft awards from the same organization and in 2015 he won 5 additional awards. No other company has ever won more than 2 awards in a single year. NK Woodworking has rapidly grown and now has over 20 employees working in 12,000 sq. ft. of workshop space serving clients across the country.

4:45 pm         Jim Bowyer, Dovetail Partners

jb5Dr. Bowyer is Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering. He is an Elected Fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science; President of Bowyer & Associates, Inc. – a consulting firm focused on helping organizations improve environmental performance; and Director of the Responsible Materials Program in Dovetail Partners, Inc. – a nonprofit organization that provides authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use, and policy alternatives. He has published widely on the topics of life cycle assessment, carbon tracking and reporting, bioenergy, green building standards, and environmental policy and is a frequent speaker nationally and internationally on these topics.

Bowyer has served as President of the Forest Products Society (1993-94) and of the Society of Wood Science and Technology (1987-88), Vice President of the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (1992-2003), Board Member (1994-2008) and Chairman (2006-2008) of the Tropical Forest Foundation, and Head of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Wood & Paper Science from 1984 to 1994.

5:30 pm        Break

6:00 pm       Dinner Begins

Annie_Stevens_headshotMarimba performance. Annie Stevens teaches percussion in the Music Department at Virginia Tech. Annie will offer a musical performance with a marimba constructed of Honduran Rosewood. Annie is an active soloist and chamber musician throughout the U.S. and internationally, displaying a wide range of expertise across the spectrum of percussion instruments. She has performed internationally at music conservatories in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Xi’an, China, the Paris Conservatory, the University of Huddersfield in England, and the Hochshule für Musik in Detmold, Germany.

6:30 pm       Student Competition Presentations

7:50 pm       Presentation of Student Competition Awards

8:00 pm      Conclusion of Symposium

  • Professional credits available!
  • Registration. Free for faculty, students and staff from Virginia Tech. All others, registration is $50.  Registration for all participants includes coffee breaks and dinner. Please follow this link for registration: 
  • Planning Committee

The symposium is co-jointly organized by the Departments of Sustainable Biomaterials; Apparel, Housing and Resource Management; Architecture; and Building Construction all at Virginia Tech. For questions regarding the symposium or the student competition feel free to contact any of the members of the planning committee: