Last year, the University of Arkansas (UA) received a number of design submissions for the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, an extension of Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, with an emphasis on timber construction research. It was recently announced that six finalists have been chosen from a shortlist of 69 firms spanning 10 countries: Dorte Mandrup A/S, Shigeru Ban Architects, LEVER Architecture, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, WT/GO Architecture, and Grafton Architects (the winner of this year’s Pritzker Prize).
All six entries were designed with cross-laminated timber (CLT) that would be sourced from the state’s forestry reserves and will include faculty living quarters, classrooms, conference areas, classrooms, studios, and fabrication technology laboratories. “The expressed ambition of this project,” Dean Peter MacKeith of the Fay Jones School told the University of Arkansas News, “is to achieve design excellence of the highest quality and to demonstrate innovation in materials and construction, with a particular focus on the potentials of mass timber and wood products.”
The winning building will act as both an extension to the architecture department and a key component of the university’s Windgate Art and Design District, a cluster of arts buildings on campus. MacKeith also cautioned that the renderings provided by the architects “are speculative concept proposals only, representing research, methods and visions, not intended or actual buildings.” The building will be the third on campus constructed using CLT, following the Leers Weinzapfel Associates-designed Adohi Hall residence in 2019 and the Miller Boskus Lack Architects-designed Library Storage structure in 2018.
The design competition was first announced in 2018 following the acquisition of a $7.5 million gift from donors John Ed and Isabel Anthony. Additionally funded by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, through the Mass Timber University Grant Program, the project is expected to cost $16 million to construct, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Construction is expected to begin in summer of this year and finish by December 2022.