Fay Jones School, Arkansas Forest Resources Center Receive Grant

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center in the UA System Division of Agriculture have received a nearly $250,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service for a collaborative project. The project, titled "From Forest to Campus: The Innovative Timber University," stems from the Forest Services' national "Wood Innovations" program, and it is expected to take about two years to complete.

The project uses the timber products harvested from an ongoing collaborative forest landscape restoration project in the Ozark National Forest in Northwest Arkansas to design a prototype for a new, sustainable residence hall at the University of Arkansas. The plan is for a design that simultaneously has environmental, economic and aesthetic benefits, which will involve using a cross-laminated timber (CLT) or nail-laminated timber (NTL) based system. It also will evaluate the sawmill residues from related timber processing for the manufacture of wood pellets for heating multi-story residential housing. A Fay Jones School design-build studio will then design and construct a full-scale mockup of a residence hall unit.

In the second year of the project, the research and prototyping will target another prominent building type on campus, the classroom/laboratory, through similar methods, materials and demonstrations. The project's overall vision is of an innovative timber campus, sourced from local forests and sustainably designed and constructed.

The research project addresses multiple themes in timber and wood innovation and design, including sustainable wood procurement and production, wood in the design of contemporary buildings, and innovations in forest conservation.

The collaborative project between the Fay Jones School and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center is the only Arkansas-based project funded in this round of federal grants. It is the largest teaching and learning research project in the last 10 years for the school.

On this collaborative project, Fay Jones School officials will work with Phil Tappe, director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center and dean of the School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, as well as Matt Pelkki, a professor at the center.

"The Fay Jones School is pleased to partner with the center in this important effort, and I would like to acknowledge Dean Phil Tappe and professor Matt Pelkki, as well as my colleague Jon Boelkins, in the writing of the grant," said Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School. "For the school, these funds represent a significant step forward in our initiatives in advanced timber and wood design technologies, and harness research objectives of value to the university and to the state, to the 'hands-on' teaching and learning ambitions of our faculty and students. In parallel, these funds are the stimulus for larger statewide economic development."

The U.S. Forest Service received 77 proposals for its Wood Innovations grant program, highlighting the expanding interest and use of wood as a renewable energy source and an innovative building material. The awarded funds also will stimulate the use of surplus cultivation from National Forest System lands and other forested lands to promote forest health while simultaneously generating rural jobs. 

The agency awarded $8.5 million in grants to expand and accelerate technologies and strategies that promote the use of wood in commercial construction, heat and power generation, and other wood product innovations that also benefit forest health. These federal funds will leverage more than $18 million in investments from 42 business, university, nonprofit and tribal partners in 19 states, for a total investment of $27 million.

Healthy markets for forest products can help the nation's forests mitigate some of the impacts of climate change. Research has shown that wood products from responsibly managed forests outperform other building materials in terms of greenhouse gas intensity, air and water pollution and other environmental impacts. Forest products can also provide income for private landowners who keep their land forested and support needed investments in forest management to provide clean water, wildlife habitat and other resources that millions in the country depend upon.

"We are looking for opportunities to reduce forest restoration costs and create more jobs through strong forest products markets," said Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. "This funding supports improving forest health on the National Forest System lands and other forested lands and promotes the economic and environmental well-being of rural communities."

The U.S. Forest Service strives to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

Public lands managed by the Forest Service contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands also provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the country, of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.

About the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design: The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas houses professional design programs of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design together with liberal studies programs. All of these programs combine studio design education with innovative teaching in history, theory, technology and urban design. A broad range of course offerings equips graduates with the knowledge and critical agility required to meet the challenges of designing for a changing world. Their training prepares students with critical frameworks for design thinking that also equip them to assume leadership roles in the profession and in their communities. The school's architecture program was ranked 26th in the nation, and the 12th best program among public, land-grant universities, in the 16th Annual Survey of America's Best Architecture and Design Schools, a study conducted in 2015 by the Design Futures Council and published in DesignIntelligence. For more information visit fayjones.uark.edu.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs.

Contacts

Peter MacKeith, dean
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-2702, mackeith@uark.edu

Shelby Wood, communications intern
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, sdw019@email.uark.edu

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu

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