Architecture students and young professionals entered a unique competition this summer—to design an innovative, mixed-use structure in New York City, featuring wood products as the star. Well-suited for a broad range of applications, wood is starting to become a more popula—and environmentally responsible—choice for both aesthetic and structural uses.
Hosted by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the Binational Softwood Lumber Council (BSLC), and Parsons The New School for Design, the first prize for the "Timber in the City" contest went to “Grow Your Own City,” from Benjamin Bye, Alex Kenton, and Jason Rood, students at the University of Oregon. See slideshow for additional winners.
"Timber in the City" posited a unique set of challenges, coupling the future of an unusual neighborhood with a set of must-haves for the project site: a mid-rise, mixed use complex with units of affordable housing, a job training/educational facility, a center for innovative manufacturing of wood technology, and a distribution center. The real-world site is in Red Hook, Brooklyn, itself a neighborhood in flux, counting artisanal businesses, housing projects, an urban farm, a big box store and formerly busy commercial wharves among its neighbors—and all fairly inconvenient to public transportation.
Both winners opted to use cross-laminated timber (CLT) for the project construction, an increasingly popular choice for mid- to higher-rise buildings in the U.S., though often manufactured overseas; here, each winner chose to either assemble or actually manufacture the CLT on-site. Apartment pods, parks, a restaurant, and a bike share and repair shop are all integral features of the proposals, each employing innovative uses of wood.
A total of $30,000 was awarded in a field of over 1,000 entrants in the competition’s successful debut outing. Cees de Jager, executive director of BSLC, said, “This competition brought to life the way the design community is recognizing the benefits of wood—from reduced economic and environmental impact to enhanced aesthetic value and structural performance—to design buildings and communities of the future.”
The projects will be on view at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons from October 24-31, the 2013 Greenbuild Conference in Philadelphia (November 20-22), the 2014 ACSA Annual Meeting in Miami (April 10-12), and the American Institute of Architects 2014 Convention in Chicago (June 26-28).