Outdoor Education Center construction reaches milestone

Construction on the new education facility at the Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Center reached a milestone May 8 in a gathering to celebrate the near-completion of timber installation on an innovative project covering 16,500 square feet.

In lieu of a traditional “topping off” ceremony, general contractor Sherman Construction welcomed key stakeholders from Clemson University, architect Cooper Carry and various project partners for a luncheon at the construction site adjacent to Lake Hartwell.

“This is a milestone, but we have a long way to go,” said Andy Sherman, president of the construction company bearing his family name. “You’ll begin seeing all the parts and pieces really coming together on this property over the next few months.”

Targeted to open later this fall, the new Outdoor Education Center will serve as home to Clemson’s Outdoor Recreation and Education (CORE) program. The facility will consist of two multi-use classroom spaces, a resource center for trip planning, equipment rentals, a boathouse, lakefront patio and second-level deck that overlooks Hartwell.

It joins the recently completed Champions Field — a 140,000 square foot synthetic turf space for Campus Recreation’s intramural sports program — on the property. The field has already seen more than 800 students participating on it this spring.

“This is a crown jewel on our university campus,” said Associate Vice President for Student Affairs George Smith. “As we looked at developing the site, we started with a vision of creating a national model for recreation and leisure space. We had the commitment to do it. We walked the site with donors who shared that commitment. It’s been reflected in how our students are starting to use the fields, and will soon utilize this outdoor recreation center. Thank you to everyone for helping us design and build this incredible facility.”

A key collaborator in the project has been the Wood Utilization and Design Institute. Its director, Pat Layton, was emotional as she introduced Clemson graduate Graham Montgomery, whose creative inquiry was responsible for helping develop the idea of using southern yellow pine, cross-laminated timber (CLT) ultimately used in the building’s design.

As attendees arrived, they were asked to sign the CLT within the facility’s elevator shaft, a tradition typically reserved for the final beam erected in a construction project. Layton chose to add a note next to her signature reading “Dreams Come True.”

“I remember seeing the first sketches from Cooper Carry and how amazing it was,” she said. “I consider this Clemson’s finest front porch. I know Thomas Green Clemson would love to sit here and look back at his legacy and know that we’re still continuing as a university to develop and grow our economy and use our natural resources for the benefits of our state and nation. That was his vision, and that’s what he gave to us. This is the first building manufactured from southern yellow pine CLT east of the Mississippi River. It will be a place visited by millions in the years to come. It really is a dream come true to see this magnificent building come to fruition.”

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