Port Angeles Hardwood Partners with Field Arts & Events Hall

After a pandemic-induced construction pause of 16 months, Field Arts & Events Hall saw dramatic increases in the cost of materials, as did construction projects nationwide. The most dramatic was the cost of casework and moldings in the 42,000 square foot structure. The design specifications call for hundreds of lineal feet of white oak trim throughout the building, and the lowest of 7 bidders came in with a cost increase of 136%, primarily due to the cost of materials. When construction resumed on August 1, 2022, Field Hall leadership discovered that this low bid included a manufactured substitute for 309 specialty “fins” in the theater, which were both an architectural feature and a primary component of the world-class acoustics. 

“It was quickly determined, after consulting with general contractor, Mortensen Construction, and our architects, LMN Architects, that the offered substitution would not work for a variety of reasons,” said Board of Directors’ President, Brooke Taylor, “We asked what the subcontractor would charge to use the solid oak pieces called for in the specs. The answer was $80,000, which was simply not acceptable, so we started looking for local solutions as we have always done in the past.”  

One of the possibilities was PA Hardwood, a local company which specializes in milling alder and maple lumber for furniture and cabinet makers all over the country. The board asked Project Director Chris Fidler to reach out to management, and when they showed interest, he forwarded the plans and specs for review which led to a meeting at their mill southwest of Port Angeles. 

“I talked to Mill Manager Jeremy Weist,” said Fidler, “He was very receptive, and soon invited our leadership team to meet with his managers at the mill site. Brooke, Executive Director Steve Raider-Ginsburg, and I met with them on September 26th and made our case. At the conclusion of our presentation Mr. Weist said they thought bigleaf maple would make the best substitute for white oak and could be easily stained to match the other wood features in the building. He said they usually mill maple one day each month, and he was sure they could cut the pieces to meet our specs, and then deliver the pieces to a specialty woodworker for the final finish and staining.” 

“I finally had to ask the key question, how much will this cost?” Fidler continued. “His answer: ‘our part will cost nothing; we will donate our time and materials as a contribution to this wonderful project.’’ 

Said Raider-Ginsburg, “We were blown away by the generosity from PA Hardwood. The pieces have all been cut to our specs – 2 and a half inches thick and ranging from 42 inches to 74 inches in length – and are now being finished in Olympia. The net savings to Field Hall is more than $60,000! It is just another example of the incredible community support this transformational project has received since its inception.” 

Port Angeles Hardwood has been milling alder and maple at its state-of-the-art facility in Port Angeles for 17 years, and currently employs 95 workers running 2 shifts per day.  

“As a bonus we got a tour of their mill and it is fabulous,” said Taylor. “I had no idea the great work they are doing and the contribution they are making to our local economy.”  

Said Mill Manager, Jeremy Weist, “We are happy to fly under the radar and do our thing up on the hill. And we are honored to partner with Field Hall to complete this project, recognizing not only the benefit to the community at large, but to all our workers and their families.” 

Field Arts & Events Hall will celebrate its Grand Opening Weekend July 29 – 30, 2023. 

Jess Grello

Jess Grello

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