Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders of Dublin-based Grafton Architects were announced last year as the winners of the limited design competition for the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation at The University of Arkansas.
In collaboration with the local design office of Modus Studio, it will be the Irish firm’s first project in the United States.
The new $16 million center will be part of the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design ad host the school’s expanding design-build program and fabrication technologies laboratories.
The building will serve as the epicenter for the school’s multiple timbers and wood design initiatives, house the school’s existing and expanding design-build program and fabrication technologies laboratories, and serve as the new home to the school’s emerging graduate program in timber and wood design.
Grafton Architects isn’t creating just another beautiful stone building as one might suspect given its previous output. Instead, the Irish firm has designed a light-filled all-timber college research building that it hopes will highlight the versatility of wood.
The basic idea behind the project’s unusual design will show off the beauty of wood finishes, as well as timber’s strength as a building material, with structural support beams left uncovered. Daylight will permeate within thanks to generous glazing and it will integrate some greenery too.
“The basic idea of this new Anthony Timberlands Center is that the building itself is a Story Book of Timber,” Farrell says of the design.
“We want people to experience the versatility of timber, both as the structural ‘bones’ and the enclosing ‘skin’ of this new building. The building itself is a teaching tool, displaying the strength, color, grain, texture and beauty of the various timbers used.”
The building’s cascading roof responds to the local climate, captures natural light and encloses this state-of-the-art educational facility.
The building has a civic quality, opening up to show the vibrant research activities, not only to the students working within it but also to the general public passing by.
‘The selection of Grafton Architects, in partnership with Modus Studio, for the Anthony Timberlands Center project immediately magnifies the already immense significance of the Fay Jones School’s current and future initiatives in the further development of timber and wood innovation for the state of Arkansas,’ said Peter MacKeith, Dean of the Fay Jones School.
“We want people to experience the versatility of timber, both as the structural ‘bones’ and the enclosing ‘skin’ of this new building,” continues Farrell.
“The building itself is a teaching tool, displaying the strength, color, grain, texture and beauty of the various timbers used.”
Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation was the product of an architecture competition that also included Shigeru Ban Architects, Dorte Mandrup, WT/GO Architecture, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, and Lever Architecture.
Construction is due to begin in mid-2020.
Architects: Grafton Architects
Local Architects: Modus Studio
Client: University of Arkansas