The Red Line - Edition I, Spring 2017



How CLT, the most innovative wood material on the market, is gaining momentum in the Pacific Northwest. 



Seattle-based Construction for Change is making a difference worldwide, creating safe, sustainable infrastructure for nonprofits to carry out their missions. 


The latest from Tukwila Library and Southport on Lake Washington. 


Celebrating the evolution of STEM. 


Conferences we can’t wait to attend, events we're sponsoring, and highlights from our favorite city’s schedule.  


Finally, there’s sun in the forecast! Our team has some great, “get outside” recommendations to help you seize the spring in the beautiful PNW. 


Welcome to the first edition of The Red Line! 

Why The Red Line? The name is a nod to the many red lines that appear on drawings, drafts, and designs; markups that are essential to the work we do each day and reflect continued improvement and evolution. 

Part of our mission is to “redefine the role of a traditional engineer.” Achieving this requires not only following, but investing in the latest trends and technologies. Not only talking internally, but sharing our thinking and encouraging conversation. Not only understanding the nuances of our industry, but widening our lens to incorporate the region and our world.

In this inaugural edition, we’re especially excited to release featured article, “Cross-Laminated Timber,” in which our team explores what makes CLT so special, what’s happening internationally, and how it’s gaining momentum in the Pacific Northwest.

The Editorial Team  
Coughlin Porter Lundeen



By now you’ve heard of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), the panelized wood product that’s providing the backbone for mid-rise towers in Europe and Canada, and getting those of us in the Pacific Northwest anxious for timber creations of our own.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, a quick recap: CLT is a prefabricated series of layered orthogonal planks, each glued to the one below. The result is a product that can compete with traditionalists like concrete and steel. As it becomes increasingly clear that building with CLT is a “when,” not an “if,” manufacturers are popping up in the Northwest and British Columbia, eager to become a part of what analysts project to become a $4 billion industry.  

CLT is undisputedly the most innovative thing happening with wood right now. As engineers, we’re excited by the prospect of a new material, especially one with the qualities of CLT. Here’s how we see CLT changing the game: 

  • CLT panels are five times lighter than concrete, and 14 times lighter than steel. This means less weight on the foundation and ground underneath (which is especially advantageous on sites with poor soil).

  • Designed and detailed properly, the product saves time in construction via prefabrication, allowing it to compete cost-wise with steel and concrete.

  • CLT is carbon-consuming and renewable. Instead of increasing the carbon footprint, building with wood creates a positive impact instead of emitting carbon with steel or concrete.

  • It has significant architectural advantages. CLT can be left exposed, and allows for tall ceilings, open spaces and hidden connections.

  • It's beautiful and sustainable! And with the adoption of a new building material, we’ll see a new generation of creativity and design.

Cross-Laminated Timber around the world. ^ 


In terms of mid- to high-rise wood construction utilizing CLT, Europe and Canada are far ahead of the U.S. That said, we’re making progress on many fronts. Oregon is leading the nation with a twelve-story, CLT, mixed-use development (the performance-based design is awaiting a building permit in Portland) and Southern Oregon is home to the nation’s first supplier of structural-certified CLT. The International Code Council has a Tall Wood Building ad hoc committee developing code updates for future mass timber high rises; a consortium of academics representing various U.S. universities, including UW and WSU, are completing a FEMA analysis to codify seismic coefficients for CLT shear walls; and CLT shear walls and connectors under seismic loading are experiencing significant testing in the Northwest.

Here in Washington, our timber legacy began more than a century ago with pioneers like Frederick Weyerhaeuser. Even so, we have yet to experience the timber revolution our neighbors in Oregon and British Columbia are promoting. It’s not only seismic considerations that complicate CLT’s progress in the Pacific Northwest. In general, politicians have been slower to lead, but encouragingly, we’re starting to see that change. Last month, the state senate reintroduced Senate Bill 5450 which instructs the Building Code Council to adopt new rules for CLT use in buildings. While a small step toward comprehensive codification, it’s most definitely a start. 

CLT is undeniably attractive – from sustainability and economics, to aesthetics and design possibilities. It’s an elegant solution, but it’s not all-encompassing or right for every program. It must be chosen with intention, and with the right team to back it up.

It’s an elegant solution, but it’s not all-encompassing or right for every program. It must be chosen with intention, and with the right team to back it up.

As we continue to study and execute CLT projects, we’ve identified key commonalities of successful projects. Each starts with a highly motivated owner who is brave enough to break through barriers. Then, the team commits to CLT early in design, ensuring there’s time to confront and surpass obstacles along the way. That team must be multidisciplinary, including contractors, building officials and fire marshals. The construction team is particularly important, given the industry’s common resistance to change.

Where do we see CLT best fitting into the Seattle-scape? Put simply, in structures between 85 and 160 feet tall. Seems specific? It is. Seattle urban planning has an inherent gap here, and it seems CLT is the perfect, economically-responsible solution for this zone.

Coughlin Porter Lundeen is an active proponent of CLT’s development, both locally and nationally. In addition to using CLT and other mass timber products on several projects, our team regularly participates in mass timber workshops, contributes to studies and research projects, and supports an internal task team. We’ve presented at several national seminars and have successfully proposed alternative building materials to local jurisdictions, including Seattle, for structural systems not currently pre-approved by the building code. We’re excited for CLT’s continued development, and are committed to contributing to the conversation in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.


Chris Duvall, P.E., S.E., has contributed to various studies concerning the use of CLT in the Pacific Northwest. He recently completed an evaluation of structural elements on the University of Washington's West Campus, addressing the hurdles of using CLT as an alternative to concrete and steel. Chris has presented nationally and continues to push CLT research and applications forward.

Construction for Change
discover our partnership with Seattle-based nonprofit. 


The Construction for Change (CfC) mission is to create safe, sustainable infrastructure for nonprofits across the world. From schools and refugee centers, to community buildings and health clinics, the CfC network is dedicated to alleviating poverty in the world’s most under-resourced areas.

The organization’s impact is widespread, with projects in Solomon Islands, India, Cambodia, Kenya, Zambia, and more. When one of our engineers spent six months in Malawi with CfC, he brought passion for the mission home to the States, and to Coughlin Porter Lundeen. 

Selected as a CfC Change Fellow, structural engineer Tyler Weinbrecht spent six months serving as a project manager in Malawi, overseeing the construction of a health clinic. He returned from Africa to begin his role at Coughlin Porter Lundeen, but was unsure of how to advocate for CfC now that he wasn’t onsite. “I believed wholeheartedly in what Construction for Change was doing, but I was new, entry-level, and didn’t feel like I was in a position to suggest pro-bono work.” But his manager was, and he was curious. Associate Principal Cory Hitzemann encouraged Tyler to share his experience at an all-company lunch session. From there, Coughlin Porter Lundeen’s involvement snowballed. Firm leadership ran with the idea and created ways for the firm to support Construction for Change and its mission. 

Today, we’re honored to have a small role in Construction for Change’s global impact. We regularly donate design talent and consultative hours to CfC’s projects, and members of our structural team serve on CfC’s Pre-Planning Committee, a group of internal staff, architects, contractors, and estimators who collaborate to evaluate potential projects and address a program’s needs, details, and challenges. 

Recently, we’ve worked on Construction for Change teams to support: 

Women’s Protection Center (WPC) Hetauda House - Hetauda, Nepal

The WPC offers refuge to victims of human trafficking, abusive or abandoned homes. It’s a secure home for women and their children, offering case management, advocacy-based counseling, tutoring and educational development, and vocational skills training programs. The five-story concrete structure broke ground on September 26, 2016, as soon as the rainy season allowed. 

To learn more about Construction for Change and the projects they’re building around the world, visit:

Medical Clinic - Raghogarh, India

Raghogarh’s Medical Clinic is one of five proposed clinics which will serve the 235,000 people in the Raghogarh region of Madhya Pradesh, India. CfC will use this clinic to pilot and refine their model, then further expand in India, where one in four children suffer death, many due to malnourishment and lack of effective medical treatment. 

Construction recently completed, the Optimize Health clinic will open this June, providing care for more 5,000 people. Utilizing a combination of dedicated Community Health Workers, innovative technology (mobile apps, interactive cloud-based medical records, and more portable diagnostics), and streamlined protocols, this clinic will provide high-quality care in one of the most impoverished states in India.

From the Field: Project Update


Perkins+Will / King County Library System / Tukwila, WA

The new Tukwila Library opened its doors on April 29. In the heart of the new Tukwila Village, our civil and structural teams collaborated with master developers, city engineers, and the Perkins+Will team to bring it to life. According to Tukwila Reporter, the library and the entire master village has been eagerly awaited by the community and is expected to redefine the area, “For 20 years, residents and business owners along the Boulevard pushed city officials to breathe new life into the neighborhood, including a new neighborhood center such as Tukwila Village.”

Municipal and community buildings are some of the most rewarding projects for our team, and the Tukwila Library is no exception as it’s allowed us to expand our expertise in cross-laminated timber (CLT) and complement a modern architectural vision. Additionally, sustainability was emphasized throughout with the implementation of green roofs, high-grade lamination, and a hydronic heated floor system. The team has consistently emphasized community education, regularly sharing details of the project’s sustainability efforts.

More about the vision for Tukwila Village
City of Tukwila project website

MG2, ZGF, Mithun / SECO Development / Renton, WA

Southport on Lake Washington is the culmination of SECO Development’s vision that began in 1999. Situated on the shore of Lake Washington, this mixed-use development is an important project for the community, attracting new businesses, residents, and tourists to the area.

This summer, the opening of the luxurious Hyatt Regency signals an important milestone in completion of this waterfront destination. As construction of the technology-rich, 730,000-square-foot office campus wraps up in 2019, it joins the hotel and upscale living complex of Bristol Residences in transforming this former industrial site. As the live webcam proves, the project’s marketing mantra rings true: “Southport is rising!”

Project Progress via the Live Webcam

Supporting STEM
and the next generation of great engineers



upcoming industry events, conference and Seattle favorites

WSU Imagine Tomorrow
May 20, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Beasley Coliseum.

Ace Mentor Program of Washington – Student Presentation Night
May 24

AngelHack Global Hackathon Series: Seattle
May 27–28
Eventbrite Info

Made in Seattle Week
June 5-9

2017 DBIA NW Golf Tournament
June 8, 10 a.m., Willows Run Golf Complex.

Global AI Hackathon
June 23-25
Eventbrite Info

A4LE School Tour & Dinner
June 28
Washington Chapter

Seafair Air Show & Hydroplane Races
August 4-6

National Park Service 101st Birthday / 
Free Entry Day
August 25
NPS Free Day Info

September 30, October 1


As ACE mentors, we introduce students to the professional world, to what we do as engineers, and to the interdisciplinary collaboration that’s required of every A/E/C project. Nine Coughlin Porter Lundeen employees support the program by leading high-level planning, designing hands-on challenges and activities for students, and serving as approachable, professional mentors. 

This session has been a banner one for ACE. Students have been encouraged to envision their future in the field as they toured industry offices, the Starbucks Reserve and Roastery, and Seattle Academy’s Makers Spaces. At a workshop hosted here at Coughlin Porter Lundeen, they were invited to try their hands at civil and structural engineering challenges. In addition to filling them with tacos, we tasked them with designing water filtration systems and building straw towers to be tested against loads and earthquake simulation.

We’re looking forward to the final presentation night, where students will share their final designs and reflections on all they’ve learned in the past year. 

Want to know more? Visit:


We welcomed 11 interns into our ranks last year. We believe that internships should be about much more than coffee runs and “busy work.” The Coughlin Porter Lundeen interns become an integrated part of our civil and structural teams, participating on live projects, joining mentor groups, and visiting sites. Their only coffee runs were self-motivated. And we can’t blame them, because we are in Seattle after all…

Know someone who’d be a great fit as an intern? Send them our way! 


RePicture STEM, a collaboration between Getty Images, Washington STEM, and Your Life, is challenging STEM stereotypes. Its goal is an important one: evolve the “stock” photography associated with STEM. Photos have power, and we agree that the next generation of STEM imagery should inspire youth and be inclusive.

The program’s mission to reshape how STEM is perceived is one that we wholeheartedly believe in, and the initiative made us rethink our own internal library, reminding us that the photos we publish alongside our content contribute to perceptions. Science, technology, engineering, and math help shape our world, and we’re excited by efforts that ensure STEM is encouraged and supported. 

Read more about RePicture STEM here.

the Pacific Northwest is finally expecting some decent weather. 

As a Seattle-based firm, we know the importance of savoring the summer months and seizing any day when the sun decides to show itself. We plan to spend our upcoming, good-weather days outdoors at Coughlin Porter Lundeen soccer and softball league games, team golf outings, our annual company picnic, Mariner and Sounders games, and the like. 

We also plan to take advantage of all the PNW has to offer, venturing beyond the city for some backpacking adventures and hikes. To help with your planning, we’ve rounded up a few of our team’s favorite hikes.

See you on the trails!


Recommended By: Aaron Fjelstad, P.E., LEED AP, Civil Project Engineer
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Area: Snoqualmie, North Bend
Difficulty Level / Elevation Gain: Easy / 1,160 ft. 

Why I Love It: Rattlesnake is a quick hike close to Seattle, perfect for an after work adventure. It’s relatively easy, but the payout is big: great views of the lake and surrounding valley from the top. Plus, there’s the added bonus of a post-hike swim!

Tip: Northwest Trail Runs hosts a race (5mi and half marathon here each spring. 

WTA Write-up


Recommended By: Walt Busch, P.E., Structural Engineer
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Area: North Cascades, Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Difficulty Level / Elevation Gain: Moderate / 1,700 ft.

Why I love it: This is a great intro hike to the Mt. Baker area boasting big views of Shuksan, Baker, and the North Cascades. The drive is a little further from the city center, but that distance eliminates many of the I-90 crowds. The alpine lakes are perfect for swimming and fly fishing. 

Tip: Beginning at Bagley Lakes, hike the loop counter-clockwise to get the elevation gain out of the way while your legs are fresh. Take advantage of the many backcountry campsites, and use your sleeping pad to float and relax on the lakes! 

WTA Write-up


Recommended By: Laura Grignon, P.E., Civil Senior Project Manager
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Area: North side of I-90
Difficulty Level / Elevation Gain: Moderate / 3,400 ft 

Why I Love It: Located off of the Ira Spring Trail, this is a great day hike with easy access from the city. It’s perfect for when you want a good workout and fabulous views without driving long distances from Seattle. 

Tip: If you’re feeling particularly energetic, continue on to the more remote Mount Defiance, which has even better views, more chances for flowers.

WTA Write-up


Published by Coughlin Porter Lundeen, The Red Line is a biannual collection of the firm’s news, perspective, and commentary on A/E/C industry topics. All content is curated and written in-house.
Questions, comments or feedback? Send us a note



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Laminated Timber.” Wood Design Focus V. 22, N. 2. Web.
Stroo, Hans D. “CLT: Washington State’s Mass Timber Opportunity.” Plan Washington. 26 May, 2016. Web.
“A National First: Cross-Laminated Timber.” Oregon Best. 10 Sept., 2015.
International Mass Timber Conference
Evans, Layne. “Cross Laminated Timber: Taking Wood Building to the Next Level. reThink Wood, American Wood Council, FPInnovations. 14 Oct. 2013.
“Can B.C. Lead the World in Building Tall Wood Towers?” BCBUSINESS. 27 Jan. 2015.
Kobelt, Pete. “Branching Out: Why Cross-Laminated Timber is Making Advances in the US.” ConstructionDIVE. 22 Jan. 2016.