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Life-size Noah’s Ark uses 3.1 million board feet of timber

Ark Encounter, the largest timber-framed structure in the world, opened in Kentucky.

July 12, 2016 |

Ark Encounter. Photo and video courtesy Ark Encounter.

A new to-scale replica of Noah's Ark will not need to survive another Great Flood. It is big enough, though, to probably hold two of every animal.

Ark Encounter, a historical museum dedicated to the legendary Bible story, was built to the size specified in scripture: 510 feet long, 86 feet wide, and 94 feet high. It is be the largest timber-framed structure in the world, according to its designers and developers. The Ark, which opened last week in Williamstown, Ky., can hold up to 10,000 people (the plan is to limit the capacity to 3,000, though), and a 1,600-seat restaurant is being set up on the top deck.

The project cost $100 million and took a little more than one year to build. The timber frame construction designed and supplied by Colorado Timberframe. The Ark required 3.1 million board feet of timber, and more than 1.2 million board feet of square timbers were needed for the frame itself.

As much reclaimed timber was used as possible, including a few of the 50-foot Engelmann spruce logs at the Ark’s center. 

“Wood is such a versatile product,” Keenan Tompkins, owner of Colorado Timberframe, said in a statement. “If you look back through history, there are plenty of examples of extremely large structures, some of which are even still standing today. So it’s kind of going back to incorporating and using that, but applying it in a modern context and having it meet the modern engineering standards that we have today.”

Construction crews included 10 workers on site in Williamstown, 25 builders in a workshop in Denver, and 75 Amish craftsmen employed by the project’s contractor.

The Troyer Group was the project’s architect, and Accoya wood was used for the exterior cladding. 

The Ark is expecting more than one million visitors during its first year.


Ark Encounter during construction. Click to enlarge.

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