Weyerhaeuser Partners With Fay Jones School for Research Fellows Program

Stacked glulam trusses — made from rectangular rather than triangular frames — extend the living space of these garden apartment units through patios, screened porches or rooftop decks. This design is from "Wood City: Timberizing the City's Building Blocks," an earlier project by the U of A Community Design Center also supported by Weyerhaeuser.
Courtesy of U of A Community Design Center

Stacked glulam trusses — made from rectangular rather than triangular frames — extend the living space of these garden apartment units through patios, screened porches or rooftop decks. This design is from "Wood City: Timberizing the City's Building Blocks," an earlier project by the U of A Community Design Center also supported by Weyerhaeuser.

Weyerhaeuser Company has partnered with the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the U of A for a new research fellows program that supports the development of innovative wood products and sustainable wood-based construction. 

The newly formed Weyerhaeuser Research Fellows Program includes two simultaneous applied research and design projects at the U of A — one focused on prototyping a 3D-printed, wood-composite house, the other on engineering mass timber to support three common housing typologies important to rural communities.

The two-year program expands on previous successful partnerships between Weyerhaeuser and the Fay Jones School and will run through 2025. It directly supports Weyerhaeuser’s 3 by 30 Sustainability Ambitions and work advancing a future where everyone has access to a quality, affordable and sustainable home. 

The Seattle-based company’s 3 by 30 Sustainability Ambitions, launched in 2020, focus on three areas where Weyerhaeuser plays an important role and can make a meaningful difference by 2030: climate solutions, sustainable homes and rural communities.

“Wood products are essential to increasing the overall availability of quality, affordable housing, so it’s important that we continue to invest in the development of new and better ways to build with them,” said Nancy Thompson, senior director of advocacy and philanthropy for Weyerhaeuser. “We’re excited to be working again with the Fay Jones School and are eager to see how the innovations developed through the program will give more people access to sustainably built homes.”

Both projects in the new research fellows program — each supported by distinct grants — build on earlier research and design efforts at the Fay Jones School that Weyerhaeuser supported.

In recent years, Weyerhaeuser has invested in the Fay Jones School through both capital projects and applied research. The company contributed toward the construction of the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation. Two grants supported the studio projects “Wood City: Timberizing the City’s Building Blocks” and “A Just Home for the Arkansas Timberlands.” Two additional grants supported a seminar and a design studio to support the research, design and production of studio desks to be placed in the new Anthony Timberlands Center when it opens in 2025.

“The Fay Jones School’s partnership with Weyerhaeuser builds upon their strong, vital presence in Arkansas and the greater southeastern forested region, as well as upon an alignment of ambitions and directions in the research, development and implementation of wood-based design solutions to challenges in affordable housing, healthier communities and climate-oriented action,” said Peter MacKeith, dean and professor of architecture in the school. “We’re deeply grateful for the opportunities to work with Weyerhaeuser, both near-term and long-term, and look forward to a continuing productive relationship.”

The first project proposes to turn waste and byproducts, such as sawdust, into wood composite that can be used as material for a 3D-printed house. Waste used in this project will come from the school’s Urban Design Build Studio AR Home Lab, which has been exploring — with Weyerhaeuser’s support — affordable housing built with Wave Layered Timber, trademarked as WLT, a new mass-timber product with a wave-like profile that fits together without nails or glue.

“The support from Weyerhaeuser propels efforts with two emerging building material technologies, each circularly related in production, poised to address an unmet housing need in rural communities, while providing effective labor force development opportunities,” said John Folan, professor and head of the Department of Architecture, who will lead the project.

The second project, “Wood City II,” through the U of A Community Design Center, will develop mass-timber prototypes for three building typologies that are growing increasingly important in rural communities: adult family homes (senior care), walk-up multifamily housing and mid-size hotels (about 100 rooms). This project follows an earlier one, “Wood City: Timberizing the City’s Building Blocks,” also supported by Weyerhaeuser, that focused on mass-timber designs for standard building types found in cities, such as suburban offices, fast-food restaurants, big-box stores, self-storage facilities and more.

“Not since the early 20th century have small and mid-sized towns with great Main Streets had pattern languages for buildings that yielded high-performing, high-quality environments,” said Steve Luoni, director of the U of A Community Design Center, who will lead the project. “Wood City II aims to develop new housing prototypes that answer multiple challenges for the 85% of Americans who live outside the nation’s top 50 cities. Mass timber prototypes based on prefabrication will address construction supply chain shortcomings, including labor shortages and the lack of a builder ecosystem in rural communities.

“Multifamily housing prototypes will reintroduce shared economies and social amenities back into housing solutions,” Luoni added. “Cooperation will become a necessary economic strategy for realizing broader access to housing. In particular, the adult family home prototype, housing five to 10 non-related adults in a non-institutional, non-medical setting, will be the way to address housing for the aging, housing for neurodivergent populations and housing for others who require assistance with activities of daily life, while maintaining independence.” 

Prototypes of the 3D-printed house and the three mass-timber building typologies will be constructed closer to the end of the program in late 2025. These projects are among the types that the Anthony Timberlands Center will house once completed.

For more information about Weyerhaeuser’s commitment to sustainable homes, visit their website.

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 few 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

About the 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 architecture and design together with a liberal studies program. The school also offers a Master of Design Studies, with concentrations in health and wellness design, resiliency design, integrated wood design, and retail and hospitality design. 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 Weyerhaeuser: Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the world's largest private owners of timberlands, began operations in 1900 and today owns or controls approximately 10.5 million acres of timberlands in the U.S., as well as 14 million acres of timberlands managed under long-term licenses in Canada. Weyerhaeuser has been a global leader in sustainability for more than a century and manages 100 percent of its timberlands on a fully sustainable basis in compliance with internationally recognized sustainable forestry standards. Weyerhaeuser is also one of the largest manufacturers of wood products in North America and operates additional business lines around real estateclimate solutions, energy and natural resources, among others. In 2023, the company generated $7.7 billion in net sales and employed approximately 9,300 people who serve customers worldwide. Operated as a real estate investment trust, Weyerhaeuser’s common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WY. Learn more at www.weyerhaeuser.com.

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