Grafton Architects' college building highlights versatility of wood
Following its Pritzker Prize win, concrete connoisseur Grafton Architects isn’t creating another beautiful stone building as you might expect given its previous output. Instead, the Irish firm has designed a light-filled all-timber college research building that it hopes will highlight the versatility of wood.
The Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation is being created in collaboration with local firm Modus Studio and will be part of the University of Arkansas' Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. It will host the school's expanding design-build program and fabrication technologies laboratories, and will be a new home for its graduate program in timber and wood design.
Details are quite thin on the ground at this early stage, but the basic idea behind the project's unusual design is that it's a "Story Book of Timber," says Grafton. It will show off the beauty of wood finishes, as well as timber's strength as a building material, with structural support beams left uncovered. Daylight will permeate within thanks to generous glazing and it will integrate some greenery too.
"We want people to experience the versatility of timber, both as the structural 'bones' and the enclosing 'skin' of this new building," says Grafton’s Yvonne Farrell. "The building itself is a teaching tool, displaying the strength, color, grain, texture and beauty of the various timbers used."
The Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation is the product of an architecture competition that also included Shigeru Ban Architects, Dorte Mandrup, WT/GO Architecture, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, and Lever Architecture.
The project will be Grafton's first building to be completed in the United States and has a budget of US$16 million. Construction is due to begin in mid-2020 but we've no word yet on an expected completion date.