Six Finalist Firms Selected for Anthony Timberlands Center Design Competition

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Six architecture firms from around the world have been selected as finalists for a design competition to envision the future Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation at the University of Arkansas.

Those six firms – culled from 69 submissions from 10 countries – will now work to create conceptual design proposals for the center, with proposals due by Jan. 31, 2020. 

This center is planned as an important extension of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design and as a key part of the university’s Windgate Art and Design District, a campus district along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard that also houses existing and proposed buildings for the School of Art and University Libraries.

The new applied research center, to be located at the northeast corner of the district, will serve as the epicenter for the Fay Jones 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. 

The six finalists were selected based on the design excellence of the individual architect or practice at the national and even international level, as well as demonstrated achievements in innovation with materials and construction. All six finalists are accomplished in both professional practice and architecture education. The finalists were notified last week, and each has confirmed participation in the design competition. The design competition is funded in large part by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

The six confirmed competition finalists are:

  • Dorte Mandrup A/S – Copenhagen, Denmark
    In 2019, cofounder Dorte Mandrup was awarded Architect of the Year by AW Architektur & Wohnen and the Kunstpreis Berlin (Berlin Art Prize), Architecture Section Award. She headlined at the curated international exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia in 2018 and was appointed chair of the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award 2019.
  • Grafton Architects – Dublin, Ireland 
    The firm co-founded by Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell has been named the 2020 recipient of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, only the second women-led practice to win the prize. Their building for the Universita Luigi Bocconi in Milan, Italy, won the World Building of the Year Award in 2008 and the RIAI Triennial Gold Medal in 2018. In 2017, they received the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture. 
  • Kennedy & Violich Architecture – Boston, Massachusetts 
    The firm’s Soft House project in Hamburg, Germany, was a winning competition entry for the International BauAustellung (IBA) and received the 2019 Architecture MasterPrize. The firm received the Holcim Foundation Award for Sustainability in 2014 and 2018. Principal Sheila Kennedy was designated as one of Fast Company’s Masters of Design, and she was awarded the 2014 Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize. 
  • LEVER Architecture – Portland, Oregon 
    The firm’s design for the 12-story Framework was a 2015 U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition winner, and it is slated to become the tallest mass timber project in the country. The firm’s Albina Yard in Portland was the first mass timber construction in the country with domestically produced cross-laminated timber panels. The firm, founded by principal Thomas Robinson, recently completed the Oregon Conservancy Center and is the lead architect for the Adidas North American Headquarters – both exemplars of design in timber and wood. The firm’s project Flex was named the 2018 Best of Design Awards winner for Commercial – Retail by The Architect’s Newspaper.
  • Shigeru Ban Architects – Tokyo/New York/Paris 
    Shigeru Ban, an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, is as well known for his work in the assistance of humanitarian causes as he is for high-profile cultural projects. He was awarded the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize and the 2005 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture. He was recently featured in The New York Times Style Magazine’s 2019 Greats issue, and he was a 2001 Time Magazine Innovator of the Year. 
  • WT/GO Architecture – New Haven, Connecticut
    This newly established partnership emerged out of Waugh Thistleton Architects (Andrew Waugh) and Gray Organschi Architecture (Lisa Gray and Alan Organschi). Waugh was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects President’s Medal for Research for the Stadthaus project in 2010. In 2018, Waugh Thistleton Architects was shortlisted for the prestigious Stirling Prize for the firm’s design of Bushey Cemetery in north London, and the firm’s 10-story Dalston Works project, completed in 2017 in Hackney, London, is the world’s largest cross-laminated timber building. Gray and Organschi both received a 2012 American Academy Arts and Letters Award, and their Ecological Living Module received a HIVE 50 Innovator Award, American Architecture Award and Residential Architect Design Award. 

The design competition element and the focus on materials make this project unlike any done before on the University of Arkansas campus. 

“The project had an unprecedented level of interest from firms around the country and the world,” said Todd Furgason, senior campus planner for Facilities Management. “We typically receive around 20 to 25 responses to a request for qualifications of this size, so it was quite a surprise when nearly 70 arrived.”

The process being pursued is advantaged by the U.S. Forest Service Mass Timber University Grant Program, which allowed the flexibility to organize the design competition and to stimulate worldwide interest in the project.

“The expressed ambition of this project is to achieve design excellence of the highest quality and to demonstrate innovation in materials and construction, with a particular focus on the potentials of mass timber and wood products,” said Dean Peter MacKeith of the Fay Jones School. “The resulting six finalists are a superb group that provides the university with the most diverse, experienced and creative talents in design intensity, reputation, leadership, knowledge, teaching capacity, material sensibilities and research methods. Both the process and the outcomes of the Anthony Timberlands Center project are intended to provide maximum educational value to our students, faculty and the larger communities of the university and state.”


The request for qualifications from architects was released Oct. 4 with a submission deadline of Oct. 29. Between Oct. 30 and Nov. 12, the submissions were reviewed by a campus review committee, chaired by Dean MacKeith. The review committee includes several Fay Jones School faculty and staff: John Folan, professor and head of the Department of Architecture; Jonathan Boelkins, teaching assistant professor of architecture; Kimberley Furlong, associate professor of interior design; Gabriel Diaz Montemayor, assistant professor of landscape architecture; and Angie Carpenter, instructor and Fabrication Labs manager. Others from campus on the committee are Gerry Snyder, executive director of the School of Art, as well as Facilities Management representatives Todd Furgason, senior campus planner; Jay Huneycutt, director of planning and design; and Dan Clairmont, director of engineering and construction.

The conceptual design proposals will be evaluated by an external team composed of Toshiko Mori, FAIA, of Toshiko Mori Architects and the Robert P. Hubbard Professor of Practice at Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Tod Williams, FAIA, of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects; and Juhani Pallasmaa, SAFA, HFAIA, of Juhani Pallasmaa Architects in Helsinki, Finland.  

Mori is the 2019 recipient of the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, the highest honor given to an educator in architecture. She designed the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland, Maine, and the award-winning Visitor Center at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House compound in Buffalo, New York. Williams, together with partner Billie Tsien, received the 2019 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award from the Japanese Art Association. The recipient of multiple AIA Honor Awards, their firm designed the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, and is currently planning the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. Pallasmaa, a leading voice in architecture and design education worldwide, served on the jury for the Pritzker Architecture Prize from 2009 to 2014 and is former dean of the faculty of architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology. He is the author of more than 60 books in architecture and design relating to the multisensory and existential dimensions of experiencing art and architecture. 

A public exhibition of the submitted competition materials is scheduled to open Feb. 3 in Vol Walker Hall. Those materials also will be presented online.

Closed-door interviews with the full project committee and public presentations to the school and university community by the six finalists are scheduled for Feb. 5 and 6. The external evaluation team will provide its assessments to the campus review committee, which will then make its recommendation to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees for consideration at its March 2020 meeting.

The design on the project is scheduled to begin in summer 2020, with a construction start date of May 2021 and project completion date of December 2022. 


Funding for the project is led by a significant private gift of $7.5 million from John Ed Anthony and his wife, Isabel. The ambition of the donors and the university is to create a building of the highest quality that will showcase Arkansas’ forestry resources, build innovation for Arkansas wood products, and bring distinction to the university and the state. The building will be a showcase for both design and construction innovation, allied with the highest ambitions for sustainability.

The true driver for the $16 million project is design and material innovation. The project is expected to demonstrate mass timber and wood product construction to the fullest possible extent, sourced to the largest possible extent from Arkansas forests and mills, and to create a distinct and innovative identity for the school and the district.

The competition aims to generate innovative designs for a fabrication and education facility that is highly functional in its role as a fabrication and research center, appropriate to the site, and innovative in its use of materials and construction techniques.

The building will house classrooms, studios, seminar spaces, conference areas, faculty offices and visiting faculty living quarters – all situated atop a high-bay fabrication and design-build shop floor. The actual building should demonstrate multi-story construction up to five stories and may include up to 50,000 square feet of floor space.

A shared landscape will be critical for both the Fay Jones School and the School of Art as a place of collaboration, for working on large-scale assemblies, and for taking deliveries of significant materials and components.

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 DesignIntelligence 2019 School Rankings Survey listed the school among the most hired from architecture, landscape architecture and interior design schools, ranking 10th, 14th and eighth, respectively, as well as 28th among most admired architecture schools.

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. 


Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design


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