Grafton Architects win their first US commission with a building that tells the story of timber

Grafton Architects win their first US commission with a building that tells the story of timber

26 Mar 2020 News

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders of Grafton Architects and recipients of the 2020 Pritzker Architecture Prize, have been announced the winners of the design competition for the proposed Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation at The University of Arkansas. In collaboration with Modus Studio, it will be the first project in the United States for the award-winning office.

The new applied research center is part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design and will serve as the epicenter for the school’s multiple timber 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.

Credit: Grafton Architects

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, colour, grain, texture and beauty of the various timbers used.

Farrell continues to explain that 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.

Credit: Grafton Architects

'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. 'As Pritzker Prize winners and as RIBA Gold Medalists, the engagement of Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara and all at Grafton Architects deepens and extends the legacy of architectural design excellence epitomized by our namesake Fay Jones, FAIA, the 1990 AIA Gold Medalist, a legacy now continued by our colleague Professor Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, and the 2020 AIA Gold Medalist. '

With an estimated $16million project budget, construction is anticipated to begin this year.

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