New Architecture and Design school at University of Arkansas breaks ground

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design broke ground November 5 on its newest addition, The Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation.

The new center will focus on wood design, product development, construction techniques, and architectural and product design.

“The Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation will be an important — and beautiful — addition to our campus,” said Interim Chancellor Charles Robinson. “This facility will create meaningful learning opportunities for our students and open new avenues of discovery and applied research for our faculty.”

The new facility itself will be a reflection of Arkansas’ forests.

The $26.5 million, nearly 45,000-square-foot building is being designed by Grafton Architects of Dublin, Ireland, led by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. Grafton is also partnering with Modus Studio of Fayetteville

The center will include a high-bay fabrication workshop, studios, seminar and conference rooms, faculty offices, and outdoor terraces. The center will also include a small auditorium and a public exhibition space. The project is being designed and constructed according to LEED Gold standards.

The Fay Jones School did not take choosing who was going to be the lead designer on the new project lightly. An international design competition was launched and funded by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

In Dublin, when we read the competition documents for this project, we were impressed by the description of the University of Arkansas, as a patron of mass timber buildings, and by the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design’s approach to sustainability and timber research at the university. 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

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara

More than 62,000 cubic feet of timber is being used in the project. The landscape design will include native species such as black gum, tulip poplar, water oaks, sycamores, maples and pines.

Contributions for the center come from University of Arkansas alumnus, with John Ed Anthony and his wife, Isabel, contributing $7.5 million.

Other support comes from:

  • Alumnus Ken Shollmier and his wife, Linda Sue, of Little Rock, who have pledged o the facility.
  • Ray and Deborah Dillon of Little Rock, whose $1 million gift will be split between the Anthony Timberlands Center and a new endowed chair in timber and wood design and innovation for the school.
  • Alumnus Tom Rowland, who is naming the exhibition gallery of the Anthony Timberlands Center with a $317,000 real estate gift.
  • Modus Studio of Fayetteville, who is contributing $250,000 to the center, and will have the seminar and conference room named after the firm.
  • The Nabholz Charitable Foundation, which has pledged $100,000 to support the center. A specific naming opportunity in recognition of their generosity will be determined at a later date.

“It is possible to build an academic building of this character, primarily in timber structure, and wooden elements,” Dean Peter Mackeith said. “In this sense we determined early on not only to do it that way, but to actually source it as much as possible out of Arkansas’ forests.”

The facility will be in the Windgate Art and Design District, and is scheduled to be finished by early 2024.

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