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Grafton and Waugh Thistleton shortlisted for Arkansas timber design school

Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
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RIBA Gold Medal winner Grafton Architects and Waugh Thistleton Architects are among six teams shortlisted to create a $16 million timber design and fabrication facility at the University of Arkansas

The two practices are up against Copenhagen’s Dorte Mandrup, Kennedy & Violich Architecture of Boston, LEVER Architecture from Portland, and Tokyo’s Shigeru Ban Architects. London-based Waugh Thistleton is collaborating with Connecticut-based Gray Organschi Architecture.

The winning team will design and deliver the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation for the university, which is in Fayetteville in the north-west of the southern US state. The competition is being partly funded by the US Forest Service and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

The project, planned to complete in 2022, will deliver a new timber fabrication and design research centre harnessing innovative materials and construction techniques which respond to its unique site and context.

The building will be an annexe to the existing Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design (pictured) and will be located on the university’s new Windgate Art and Design District on nearby Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard.

The Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation is intended as a showcase for mass timber and wood product construction and the materials are expected to be drawn from forests and mills within the state.

The six shortlisted teams were chosen from 69 entries and the finalists now have until 31 January to draw up their proposals. Concepts for the 4,650m² structure must feature classrooms, studios, seminar spaces, conference areas, faculty offices and residential spaces for visiting faculty members.

Concepts will be evaluated a team featuring Toshiko Mori of Toshiko Mori Architects; Robert P Hubbard, professor of practice at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Tod Williams of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects; and Juhani Pallasmaa of Juhani Pallasmaa Architects in Helsinki, Finland.

Todd Furgason, senior campus planner for facilities management, said: ‘The project had an unprecedented level of interest from firms around the country and the world. We typically receive around 20 to 25 responses to a request for qualifications of this size, so it was quite a surprise when nearly 70 arrived.’

Fay Jones School dean Peter MacKeith said: ‘The expressed ambition of this project 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 resulting six finalists are a superb group that provides the university with the most diverse, experienced and creative talents in design intensity, reputation, leadership, knowledge, teaching capacity, material sensibilities and research methods.

‘Both the process and the outcomes of the Anthony Timberlands Center project are intended to provide maximum educational value to our students, faculty and the larger communities of the university and state.’

The full shortlist

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