Home of the World’s Largest-Self-Supported Log Ceiling

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Six hundred twenty seven logs span across a room sixty feet in diameter, yet no log is more than twenty six feet in length.  The structure weighs over forty tons and is labeled the largest self-supported log ceiling in the world.  This structure is the ceiling of the Koshare round room and one main features of the Koshare Museum.

From the beginning of their dream to build the Koshare Round Room, the Koshare Program was determined to make this ceiling entirely self-supported. In the process, the architect and engineer of the building feared this ceiling could not be built.

In spite of what many architects at the time claimed to be impossible without the use of interior supporting beams, the Koshares and their architect were willing to push beyond what seemed theoretically impossible.

Building the Impossible

In 1948, Damon Runyon was enlisted to help design the Koshare Round Room. Runyon was an old college friend of Koshare Founder, Buck Burshears, and a professional architect. Throughout Runyon’s career, he designed dams in the Rocky Mountains, bridges over the Mississippi River, and structures for military bases from Guam to the Middle East. In all the highlights of his career as a a famed architect, he was most proud of accomplishing the impossible design of the Koshare Round Room.

Great things, just like the Koshare Round Room, can come from seemingly foolish ideas of people who never give up believing!

Runyon volunteered his time to do the architectural drawings for one of his greatest design challenges. It was deemed the impossible ceiling to build by other architects at the time. However, Runyon would dream along with the Koshare Program and chose to believe it was possible.

In time, Runyon discovered the solution while having coffee with Buck Burshears and the Koshares’ contractor. The three men conducted an experiment by putting toothpicks across a coffee cup in varying layers. When completed, the experiment represented a small scale model of the “impossible” ceiling to build. All agreed that this would be the best way to place the logs in the actual roof.

Runyon returned to his office to make the calculations on the possibility of this finding. It is said Runyon wore out three slide rules trying to figure out the stress factors on the logs! Runyon also contacted a friend, an engineer who helped design the Golden Gate Bridge, to help compute the stress factors.

On November 11, 1949, the Koshare Program would hold the grand opening of the Koshare Round Room showcasing, what was once thought to be impossible, the world’s largest self-supported log ceiling. Today, the original 1949 structure continues to be a highlight of the museum and is now a registered state historic site of the Colorado Historical Society.