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5 Commercial Spaces that Highlight Plywood’s Versatility

5 Commercial Spaces that Highlight Plywood’s Versatility

  • May 4, 2018
  • by Columbia Forest Products

For some people, hardwood plywood isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of cutting-edge architecture and design.

But decorative hardwood plywood is enjoying a surge in popularity for its low cost, ease of fabrication, accessibility and design flexibility. If it’s not already in your repertoire, it should be! Take a look at these examples of plywood at its best.

1. Distinctive Design


When designing for a law firm, image matters. Clients of the Armstrong Teasdale Law Firm in St. Louis, MO, will undoubtedly be impressed by the elegant table that dominates the firm’s conference room.

The key to projects like this is plywood’s inherent flexibility, which makes it perfect for projects where the design is intended to make a statement. The degree of flexibility can be customized via the thickness of the sheets and whether they’re constructed in a cross-grain manner or with all of the grain running in one direction.

In the Armstrong project, the plywood was leveraged for its cross-sectional edge visuals, and stacked up before being shaped.

Plywood fabrications can be engineered for weight factors, which can be pretty important in a project like this, since a table this size made of 100% natural wood would be considered intimidatingly heavy. And the variety of veneers that are available makes plywood perfectly suited from c-suites to mail rooms.

2. Go Big or Go Home

This is an area where hardwood plywood outshines solid lumber by a mile. It’s tough to find solid lumber panels with the scale you see in this bedroom; if you do, you’ll pay a premium. Even then, you may have to discard some of the wood due to knots, cracked edges and other imperfections.

But with plywood, you’ll have no trouble finding sheets large enough for designs where you want to feature natural beauty, with a minimum of visible seams, at a value-engineered price.

3. Building Sustainable Communities


Some projects just cry out for environmentally-responsible materials, and one of them is the Beardsley Community Farm Education Center at the University of Tennessee.

Some people assume that because plywood is an engineered material, it wouldn’t make the cut for green construction. The reality, however, is very different. Columbia’s formaldehyde-free PureBond(R) hardwood plywood is an EPA award-winning material that can contribute to LEED credits on projects in many different ways.

4. Modern Office Solutions

With so many businesses eschewing offices in favor of open floor plans, unoccupied conference rooms can be hard to find. That leaves employees who need a place to have a confidential conversation huddling behind potted plants.

Google and MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab came up with a solution: temporary meeting spaces that employees can pull down from the ceiling whenever they need a quiet conversation. When in use, one of these temporary meeting rooms creates a space 10 feet wide and eight feet tall, suitable for around eight people.

Interconnected fiberglass rods form the structure and are covered with felt on the inside and plywood panels on the outside. Lightweight plywood is essential to the room’s function, making it possible for employees to push the structure back into the ceiling when it’s no longer needed.

5. Sustainable Schools

This award-winning classroom features clean lines, plenty of natural light, and birch plywood paneling.

The John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School Kindergarten won the Australian Interior Design Awards for Sustainability in 2013. Brooking Design Architects created the space with environmental responsibility in mind, and features Columbia’s PureBond plywood for the paneling, cabinetry, and a ceiling treatment in the project. The playful-yet-functional classroom gives children the opportunity to work and play in a space optimized for healthy, sustainable design.

Elevate Your Next Project With Plywood

If you’ve been relegating plywood for designs involving basic, low-end projects, it’s time to look around and see the potential!

Designers and architects around the world are using plywood’s durable and sustainable characteristics to redefine the meaning of beautiful design. Shouldn’t you be one of them?