Submissions open for the USDA and Softwood Lumber Board’s $2 million mass timber design competition

Wood on The Street Is...

Submissions open for the USDA and Softwood Lumber Board’s $2 million mass timber design competition

Skylab Architecture’s Outpost in Hood River, Oregon, a winner of the 2021 U.S. Wood Design Awards in the Commercial Wood Design – Mid-Rise category. (Stephen A. Miller/Courtesy WoodWorks)

In October of last year, AN shared news that the United States Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Oregon City, Oregon-based Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) had come together in a private/public partnership to fund a second national mass timber design competition. Dubbed Mass Timber Competition: Building to Net-Zero Carbon, the $2 million competition seeks to “showcase mass timber’s innovative applications in architectural design and highlight its significant role in reducing the carbon footprint of the built environment” with project grants of up to $500,000 being awarded to multiple teams. At the time, the project submission timetable had not been revealed.

Now, as announced earlier today, the entry period is open to eligible applicants with a deadline of March 30. The awardees will be publicly revealed during the last week of June.

There is also a competition Q&A webinar scheduled for March 11.

While the competition is being funded by the USDA and SLB, it is being wholly managed by the nonprofit Woodworks, which will convene an independent judging panel of industry peers to evaluate the submitted proposals. Members of the panel, who will represent myriad relevant fields including architecture, engineering, construction, development, forestry, and sustainability, will be named at the end of the entry period.

As previously detailed, competition eligibility extends to U.S.-registered for-profit organizations and companies including architects, engineers, developers, and building owners along with domestically incorporated not-for-profit entities such as colleges, universities, and associations. Local governments and Native American Tribal governments and organizations are also eligible.

Eligible building types include commercial, institutional, industrial, educational, mixed-use, and multifamily housing developments so long as the timber sourced for the project in question demonstrates sustainable forest management and contributes to forest and watershed health. Preference will be given to projects that commit to using domestically harvested and manufactured mass timber. Hybrid mass timber projects that incorporate other structural building materials are also eligible, provided that timber products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), nail-laminated timber (NLT), glued-laminated timber (glulam), and dowel-laminated timber (DLT) are the dominant components used.

As noted in a press release announcing the launch of the entry period, “lessons learned from the competition will be shared with the broader design and construction community to help support future projects, including cost analyses, life cycle assessments, and other research results.”

Additional information on eligibility, deadlines, and more as well as the request for proposals (RFP) form for Mass Timber Competition: Building to Net-Zero Carbon can be found here.