Winner: 2013 Berkeley Design Advocates Biennial Awards for Design Excellence

Generations in the Making

Nineteenth and twentieth century Teak finds its way into a stunning interior and exterior ceiling design.

Tectona grandis is the only true species of Teak, says Ken Westrick, owner, TerraMai, the reclaimed Teak provider. The Teak, used at the Energy Biosciences Building, was "harvested from old Indonesian houses and factories built 50 to 125 years ago," he says.

The order for reclaimed Teak was placed 5 months in advance of the project.

"The forethought you have to put into a material lead-time like that is just intense," says 9Wood's project manager, Rebecca Hart. "We got the project its own grade. No one has bought reclaimed Teak at this level of premium grade, so far as we know."

It suits the researchers at this energy biosciences building, who are developing biofuels and biomass resources for the future. Everything here is about the environment.

"The Teak species is a beauty that will last," says architect Johnny Wong of the SmithGroup. "It tends to do well with moisture. It's a stable, dense wood."

Exterior Teak use

Reclaimed Teak served as a first-floor underside soffit. It was custom sized — 1" thick — to meet the fire-rating code. The exterior planks featured a metal mesh screen to keep out bugs and birds, which was sandwiched between the members and the backers — a modular system that visually matches up with the interior ceiling plane.

Interior Teak use

Reclaimed Teak ceilings fill the lobbies and upper-floor corridors. They create "inspiration space," says Wong. "Creative ideas don't necessarily happen in front of a lab bench," he says, "but often through collaboration in a more informal setting."

Custom premium grade

"We went through a very stringent screening process," says Wong, who required premium reclaimed Teak grading and even personally visited the manufacturer's plant and the job site to review the reclaimed Teak planks.

9Wood and Teak supplier TerraMai set up a premium grading specification unique to this project.

"This is a truly custom, one-in-the-world ceiling," says a 9Wood spokesman.

Whereas others might tolerate more holes in each reclaimed wood plank, this project allowed only four holes (1" - 1-9/16") per 4' of length. A special epoxy — made from Teak sanding dust — was required to fill holes.

"It was challenging to achieve the spec and minimize waste," says a 9Wood spokesman.

The architect is pleased. "We created a lab building that doesn't have an institutional look," Wong says. "We brought life to it."

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