Monterrey Workshop Raises Awareness for Southern Pine

Monterrey Workshop

Promoting Southern Pine and the benefits of building with wood internationally and doing it for a good cause?

That’s exactly what the 2023 Monterrey Workshop, led by American Softwoods (AMSO) LATAM in conjunction with the Tecnol?gico de Monterrey University (ITESM) achieved from May 8-12 in Monterrey, Mexico.

The workshop consisted of educational presentations on the benefits and best use of Southern Pine and engineered wood products as well as hands-on building classes and resulted in a building that will serve as a multiuse building for a kindergarten in a low-income neighborhood while showcasing the strength, versatility, beauty, and sustainability of wood-frame construction.

The Monterrey edition included 43 participants, including architects, engineers, builders, importers, distributors, design professionals, professors, and students, who learned about wood-frame construction.

How the Monterrey Workshop Worked

Participants attended educational presentations each morning at CBTIS Technical School that included:

  • why Southern Pine is the smart structural and climate choice.
  • how to use engineered wood products/structural panels;
  • building to withstand seismic/wind loads;
  • properly installing steel connectors;
  • working U.S. building codes;
  • proper building techniques; and
  • the sustainability of wood and Southern Pine.

Participants then applied that new knowledge via hands-on building each afternoon at the construction site located at the Kindergarten Club de Leones Lomas.

Dan Archibald, director of the USDA’s Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Monterrey, and Luis Villarreal, a professor of architecture at ITESM, provided opening remarks Monday morning to kick off the workshop. Participants were then separated into four groups comprised of students, importers, builders, and architects so they could collaborate and offer unique perspective and experience.

Each team received a copy of the architectural plans, which they learned to read and mark up during the first morning’s education session. From there they headed to the construction site to measure the concrete foundation and mark where wall, window and door opening locations. They also began to cut the lumber to frame the walls.

As the week progressed, participants framed the walls, stood them up, sheathed them with OSB, installed steel connectors, and built the roof with LVL, I-joists, and OSB.

Visitors, including architects, importers, and construction professionals, visited the site during the week to learn more about wood frame construction, as that type of construction is uncommon in Mexico. Questions and education centered about the different products being used, why they were chosen, and general costs for the project.

Roger Rigaud, general consul from the U.S. Embassy in Monterrey, visited one day and even nailed a few steel connectors, while the Subsecretary of Education in Nuevo Leon delivered remarks and thanks to the workshop leaders and participants.

The program ended Friday night with a reception where time-lapse videos of construction were show and each participant received a certification of participation. Rigaud; Rodolfo Barragan Delgado, regional dean of the School of Architecture, Art and Design at ITESM; and Archibald, also attended.

What’s Next?

ITESM plans to finish the building in late 2023 with siding, electrical, doors, windows, and indoor and outdoor finishes.

There is limited knowledge regarding U.S. structural panels and engineered wood products in the context of wood-frame construction in Mexico. The Monterrey workshop, though, was a perfect opportunity to teach and explain from start to finish how U.S. lumber and wood products can be properly combined to build a safe, cost-effective structure. It also offered the opportunity to showcase the benefits of building with wood in seismic areas, which gave the workshop participants peace of mind knowing they were building a safe structure.

AMSO plans to conduct additional seminars and construction workshops in Latin America to continue educating importers, architects, students, professors, builders, engineers, and others in the construction sector. This work is in addition to the support AMSO representatives already provide building professionals in Latin American to purchase and specify U.S. lumber and wood products.

AMSO and SFPA are already planning the 2024 workshop in Colombia.