U of Arkansas Constructing Locally Sourced Design Building

By Eric Althoff

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.—Razorbacks will soon have a shiny new building in which to study architecture and design. As announced by the University of Arkansas, the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design is adding the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation to its campus.

The $26.5 million, 45,000-square-foot building will entail classrooms, workshops, studios, dedicated space for faculty as well as outdoor terraces. Public exhibition art space and an auditorium will also be included under the roof of the Timberlands Center. The center also entails a state-of-the-art 3D printing lab, large format water jet and a 5-axis CNC router.

The building will offer 62,000 cubic feet of timber sourced from around Arkansas, including native black gum, tulip poplar, water oaks, sycamores, maples and pines. In addition, classes taught at the center will focus on instruction in wood design, fabrication technologies and Arkansas-sourced timber usage.

Grafton Architects, based in Dublin, Ireland, is designing the Timberlands Center in conjunction with local firm Modus Studio of Fayetteville. Nabholz Construction Corporation of Jonesboro, Ark., is serving as the project’s general contractor.

“The project embodies the aspirations, goodwill, generosity and dedicated commitment of so many across the state,” Peter MacKeith, dean of the school, said in a recent statement released by the university, adding he was grateful for “the many friends and benefactors who have joined together in support of this laminated, educational, environmental and economic mission.”

Added Interim Chancellor Charles Robinson: “The Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation will be an important — and beautiful — addition to our campus. This facility will create meaningful learning opportunities for our students and open new avenues of discovery and applied research for our faculty. The knowledge created here will soon be applied to help solve pressing problems in Arkansas and beyond.”

In a joint statement from Grafton Architects, principals Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara said they were quite taken with the University of Arkansas’ focus on sustainability and timber research.

“We were also impressed by the clear instruction that Arkansas timber and wood products would have to be considered for structure, for the enclosing envelope and for interior surfaces and furnishings of the building,” the statement from Grafton said.

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2024.