Anthony Timberlands Center Project Breaks Ground in Windgate District

Exterior view rendering of current design of the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, at the University of Arkansas - part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.
Courtesy of Grafton Architects.

Exterior view rendering of current design of the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, at the University of Arkansas - part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design held a groundbreaking ceremony for its newest addition, the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation on Friday, Nov. 5.

Located in the Windgate Art and Design District, the structure will be a center of excellence for innovation in wood design and product development to expand the use of Arkansas-sourced timber and wood in architectural design, construction techniques and product design. 

The $26.5 million, nearly 45,000-square-foot building 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. This project is being designed and constructed according to LEED Gold standards.

The planned center 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 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 knowledge created here will soon be applied to help solve pressing problems in Arkansas and beyond. Our sincere thanks to the Anthony family and to everyone who is helping make this moment possible.” 

“A groundbreaking — or in our case, a column raising — for the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation is cause for celebration for all in the Fay Jones School and the U of A community,” said Peter MacKeith, dean of the school. “The project embodies the aspirations, goodwill, generosity and dedicated commitment of so many across the state: It is truly a collaborative enterprise. I am grateful to John Ed and Isabel Anthony for their leadership gift and vision, the U of A administration for their consistent parallel commitment, and to the many friends and benefactors who have joined together in support of this laminated, educational, environmental and economic mission.”


The Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation is being designed by Grafton Architects, of Dublin, Ireland, in partnership with Modus Studio of Fayetteville. Grafton Architects is led by co-founders Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, recipients of the 2020 Pritzker Architecture Prize and the 2020 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture.

The design team was selected after a months-long process unlike anything previously done for a U of A building. The Fay Jones School initiated an international design competitionthat was funded in large part by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

A total of 69 firms from 10 countries answered the university's request for qualifications from architects in late 2019. From those submissions, six finalist firms were selected to conceive conceptual design proposals for the new research center. In early 2020, both the external evaluation team and the U of A campus review committee recommended Modus Studio with Grafton Architects as the project team. The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees approved the design team selection in March 2020. 

“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,” said Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara.

The center will include areas for wood fabrication and metal fabrication, an external fabrication yard, and a 3D printing lab. It will be equipped with a 5-axis CNC router, large format laser cutter, large format water jet, and articulated robotic arms. The gantry crane will have a 5-ton capacity.

There will also be an auditorium, an exhibition gallery, administration suite, the Anthony’s Way entry courtyard, exterior terraces, and areas for grant and research work. Flexible studio spaces will accommodate 125 design students.

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.

Farrell and McNamara said that Grafton Architects have been working closely with the Fay Jones School and the university, with Modus Studio and all the members of the design team, together with Nabholz Construction Corporation, to reach this important stage in this project.

“The competition documents referred to ‘Arkansas’ identity as being one of deep pragmatism that appreciates poetic beauty’ — describing the vision for the Anthony Timberlands Center as ‘a careful balance of utility and poetry, of restraint and expressiveness.’ All involved are working towards translating that vision into timber reality,” they said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2022, with substantial completion of the project anticipated by 2024.


University of Arkansas alumnus John Ed Anthony and his wife, Isabel, are contributing $7.5 million to support the construction of this new center with a primary focus on design innovation in timber and wood. He is chair of Anthony Timberlands Inc.

Other support for the new center comes from: 

  • Alumnus Ken Shollmier and his wife, Linda Sue, of Little Rock, who have pledged $1 million to 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.

Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design: The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas houses undergraduate professional design programs of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design together with liberal studies programs. The school also offers a Master of Design Studies, with concentrations in resiliency design, integrated wood design, and retail and hospitality design. 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: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.


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


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