When western Alaska’s Kuskokwim River overflowed its banks in May 2011, sweeping away much of the remote Yupik village of Crooked Creek, state disaster-relief officials turned to the Fairbanks-based Cold Climate Housing Research Center for help. Nine replacement homes were needed, on a tight budget and within an even tighter time window. Throughout the month of June, CCHRC president Jack Hébert and his staff collaborated with a truss manufacturer in the port city of Kenai to work out the details of an innovative framing system that combined roof, walls, and floor in a single whole-house truss.In mid-July, the trusses and...

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