Fay Jones School Awarded $250K Grant for Housing Innovation Center

Fay Jones School Awarded $250K Grant for Housing Innovation Center
The University of Arkansas logo. The university's School of Architecture and Design has been awarded a federal innovation grant. (University of Arkansas)

The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas has been awarded a federal $250,000 Wood Innovations Grant it will use to establish a Housing Innovation Center.

The grant from the U.S. Forest Service will be matched by UA funding and is intended to help develop sustainable, affordable mass timber housing prototypes for diverse regions throughout the state. The prototypes will use wood sourced in Arkansas.

The new center, which will be located in the university’s Windgate Art and Design District, aims to address the need for affordable housing, sustainability, stewardship of the state’s forests and environment, expanded employment opportunities and economic development issues. It will be an extension of the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, which is slated to open in 2023.

Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School, said in a news release, “The school has advanced rapidly and significantly into national prominence through this initiative … The confluence of our work in mass timber with our work in housing, community building and resilient design is a clear demonstration of the school’s commitment to the economic and environmental betterment of the state.”

John Folan, professor and head of the Department of Architecture, will lead development of the center. 

The grant supports the design and permitting of the first prototype, the Housing Innovation Incubator — a physical representation of the objectives of the center itself. The incubator will serve as a pilot project for broader housing aspirations by providing tangible evidence of advanced construction techniques. It will focus on mass timber and cross-laminated timber, an increasingly popular building material Arkansas Business has covered before.

The center is currently researching and developing prototypes for both the northwest Arkansas region and the timberlands region of south Arkansas.