Department of Unemployment Assistance Completes 3-Story Mass Timber Building in Brockton

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Salem, MA — Workers in Brockton are putting the finishing touches on the new three-story regional headquarters for Massachusetts’s Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

The project is the Commonwealth’s first cross-laminated timber (CLT) building of this scale to use solely public funds. Move in is scheduled for mid-May.

The DUA manages the state’s unemployment insurance program, which provides temporary income to Massachusetts workers who are unemployed and looking for a job. When state officials opted to keep the DUA’s regional office in Brockton, it maintained about 150 jobs, then expanded the agency’s socioeconomic benefits by moving its new headquarters to long-vacant site downtown and partnering with Massasoit Community College (MCC) to house workforce training programs, classes, an art gallery, and community resources on the building’s ground floor.

Small building, big benefits

The modestly sized building (33,000 square feet) takes on an outsize role, at once helping to revitalize a struggling historic core while contributing to employment opportunities, blazing an important new path to sustainability for the Commonwealth and modeling a workplace design of uncommon flexibility and comfort for its hard-working occupants.

The study behind the relocation choice marked the start of Jones Architecture’s work on the project. The firm looked at whether to stay put at 36 Main Street or move south to 226 Main Street. The latter was an existing derelict building that sat at the termination of a primary entry corridor into the city. This site is a focal point for anyone driving into town and presented opportunities the state couldn’t pass up.

The new building houses modern workspaces for the DUA’s contact center, hearings rooms and administrative staff on the top two floors, and the MCC outpost at street level. It is designed using a hybrid steel and cross laminated timber (CLT) and glulam beam and column structural system, also known as mass timber.

“Designing with mass timber is so rewarding,” said project designer Marc Perras. “There’s the visual appeal that comes with the warmth of wood as a finish material, and then the incredible environmental advantages of using wood in place of concrete and steel.”

There are about 360 metric tons of carbon benefit in the DUA project, because the use of wood (333 cubic meters) both reduces carbon emissions and increases carbon sequestration. These benefits make CLT construction an increasingly popular approach to mid-size commercial buildings.

A new path to sustainability for the Commonwealth

As the state’s first CLT building of this scale to use solely public funds, the project served as a test case for navigating the public procurement process and will make new projects easier to undertake. Combining the needs of the DUA program, the environmental stewardship embodied in mass timber, and the long-term economic benefit of a building designed to use 44% less energy than code is emblematic of the triple bottom line — people. prosperity, and planet.

“Jones Architecture has done an excellent job,” said DUA Project Manager Barry Heidke. “This project sits on a prominent site along Main Street in downtown Brockton and will be an important public building for decades to come.”

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