Four universities in Arkansas and Texas are among 10 nationally that have been awarded $100,000 each from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Mass Timber University Grant Program.
The partnership with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities supports the construction of mass timber buildings on college campuses across the country and brings $136 million in university matching funds.
This grant program showcases the architectural and commercial viability of mass timber in building construction.
Receiving grants in Arkansas and Texas are the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design; Rice University in Houston for its Mass Timber Project proposal in residential housing; San Jacinto College, Central Campus Classroom Building; and Stephen F. Austin State University, New Dining Hall, Residence Hall, Welcome Center and Fine Arts Addition & Renovation.
Mass timber describes a group of wood products made up of smaller pieces of wood that are laminated and compressed to create large, solid panels of wood that can serve as the structural components in buildings.
The mass timber market helps maintain forest health and resiliency, supports employment opportunities in rural communities and advances sustainability of the built environment. By placing these buildings at institutions of higher education, the agency helps educate the next generation of decision-makers about the benefits of mass timber. The Forest Service is supporting this grant program as part of its ongoing efforts to promote the use of mass timber construction.
The project helps provide market incentives for landscape restoration efforts that reduce the risk of high-severity fire, resulting in safer communities.
Federal funds for the program will support incremental activities that are institutional hurdles for new building projects using mass timber, and include design and engineering work, cost studies and construction code review support for a variety of building types.
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The Stadium Drive Residence Halls at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville are among the first residence halls in the United States to use cross-laminated timber – they are the first multi-story advanced-timber structures in the state.