Campus LifeNews

Life-size Lite-Brite finds home at UWT

The cross-laminated timber Light Bright is displayed on the UW Tacoma campus. The box-like object is located just outside the front of the Snoqualmie building, adjacent to the front steps. It sports a multitude of colored tubes which poke in and out of the numerous holes.

The Light Bright was originally constructed for the 2017 Seattle Design Festival Block Party, hosted by the American Institute of Architects. It was showcased for 10 days at Pioneer Square before it was moved to the UWT campus. It was designed and created by Mahlum, an architecture and planning firm which has its roots in the Seattle and Portland area. Walsh Construction Co. and Mahlum were able to assemble the frame and place the panels in less than two hours. Additional support on the Light Bright comes from Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Dr. Johnson Lumber Co. and Walsh Construction Co.

The structure was brought to the Tacoma campus in preparation for the all day campus event “Building a Sustainable Future” Nov. 20. The event will be hosted by Forterra, a local nonprofit group which promotes the conservation of land and natural resources, as well as the use of CLT as a key sustainable material for construction.

Mahlum also encourages visitors to tinker with the colored tubes. The Light Bright was advertised as a place where one could think introspectively while inside. The different colored tubes create unique patterns which truly immerse those inside the structure.

The Light Bright itself was created from the remaining construction materials from a completed project for Greywolf Elementary in Sequim, which Mahlum and Walsh Construction worked on. To prevent waste, the leftover CLT panels were put together to compose the sculpture on display today.

Mahlum’s goal is to design and build spaces which promote thoughtfulness while also being usable and aesthetically appealing. They are responsible for the design of the UW’s West Campus Housing, which includes Elm Hall, Poplar Hall, Alder Hall and Cedar Apartments.

CLT is a useful building material due to its resistance to heat and stability. It can be used as an alternative to concrete and steel and is flexible, lightweight and easy to install. Builders around the world are taking advantage of this material. There are many proposed projects coming out of the woodworks right now, from a 12 story building in Portland, Oregon, to a 1,000 foot tall tower in London, England.

Another benefit of using CLT is its impact, or lack thereof, on the environment. A 2014 feasibility study done by Mahlum indicates that CLT has a “lighter environmental footprint than traditional concrete and steel construction systems.”

The CLT Light Bright will remain on the UWT campus for an estimated one more week, following the conclusion of the “Building a Sustainable Future” event.


For more information on “Building a Sustainable Future,” visit: