Students Awarded Prizes for Innovative Designs Using Wood as a Green Material for Urban Construction

NEW YORK, August 8, 2016 —Today, the winning entrants were announced of a student design competition exploring wood as an innovative building material. Timber in the City: Urban Habitats Competition, organized by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the Binational Softwood Lumber Council (BSLC) and Parsons The New School for Design, attracted more than 850 architectural students who designed proposals for a mid-rise, mixed-use complex with affordable housing units, a NYC outpost of the The Andy Warhol Museum and a new and expanded home for the historic Essex Street Market. The winning entrants, with prizes totaling $40,000, were chosen by a panel of leading architects and professors based on the design’s ability to integrate wood as the primary structural material while meeting the needs of the local community.  

The competition focused on a site on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, with a diverse population of public housing residents, market, the new Lowline and a number of new residential and commercial developments. Students were asked to design places for inhabitation, repose, recreation, and local small scale commercial exchange, as well as the creation of social and cultural exchanges, all while embracing new possibilities of wood. Entrants were challenged to propose construction systems in scenarios that draw optimally on the performance characteristics of not one but a variety of wood technologies. 

“Today, timber is being used in new, innovative ways to help address the economic and environmental challenges of the build environment,” said Cees de Jager, executive director of BSLC. “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 2016 Greenbuild Conference in Los Angeles (October), the 2017 ACSA Annual Meeting in Detroit (March) and the American Institute of Architects 2017 Convention in Orlando (April).  Awards, totaling $40,000, were presented to teams of students and faculty for their unique celebrations of wood products.

  • First Place: “Stack Exchange” – the University of Washington’s winning submission attracted the jurors with its outstanding inventive formal strategy and expressive use of timber. The scale of the market and gallery spaces read as great urban rooms with the residential spaces floating above.
    • Students: Buddy Burkhalter, Mingjun Yin, and Connor Irick, University of Washington
    • Faculty Sponsors: Richard Mohler and Elizabeth Golden, University of Washington
    • Second Place: “Hybrid Domains” – the University of Oregon stands out for its elegant hybridity of systems. There is a nice nod to the old 19th century steel and iron loft buildings but reincarnated in timber.
      • Students: Greg Stacy, Benjamin Wright, Alex Kendle, and Michael Meer, University of Oregon
      • Faculty Sponsor: Judith Sheine and Mark Donofrio, University of Oregon, and Mikhail Gershfeld, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
      • Third Place: “Grid + Grain” – the University of Washington has a very exciting and convincing urban strategy. The diagram for this project in plan and section is extremely elegant and works well. It is a project that you could see being built today in New York City.
        • Students: Everardo Lopez, Lauren McWhorter, and Jesce Walz, University of Washington
        • Faculty Sponsors: Richard Mohler and Elizabeth Golden, University of Washington

Additionally, two student teams were selected as honorable mention winners:

  • Honorable Mention Project: Within a Timber Glade
    Students: Ross Silverman, Kelly Hayes, James Ko, and Caitlin Powell, Philadelphia University
    Faculty Sponsors: Lisa Phillips, Li Hao, and Edgar Stach, Philadelphia University
  • Honorable Mention Project: The Delancey Cut
    Students: Zachary Jorgensen, Elizabeth Kelley, and Charles Landefeld, University of Washington
    Faculty Sponsors: Richard Mohler and Elizabeth Golden, University of Washington

The winning projects were chosen by a panel of distinguished jury members in the architecture community, including the following:

  • Jennifer Cover, WoodWorks
  • Dana Getman, SHoP Architects
  • Susan Jones, atelierjones
  • Alan Organschi , Gray Organschi Architect
  • Jeff Spiritos, Spiritos Properties

The competition ran from July 2015 through May 25, 2016 and included over 850 participants. The design jury met in July to select the winning projects and honorable mentions. For full details on the competition and the winning submissions visit www.timberinthecity.com.

Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
Founded in 1912 to advance the quality of architectural education, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) represents all accredited programs and their faculty across the United States and Canada, as well as nonaccredited and international affiliate members around the world. ACSA, unique in its representative role for schools of architecture, provides a forum for ideas on the leading edge of architectural thought. Issues that will affect the architectural profession in the future are being examined today in ACSA member schools. The association maintains a variety of activities that influence, communicate, and record important issues. Such endeavors include scholarly meetings, workshops, publications, awards and competition programs, support for architectural research, policy development, and liaison with allied organizations. For more information, please visit www.acsa-arch.org.     

Binational Softwood Lumber Council
The Binational Softwood Lumber Council (BSLC), a nonprofit organization, was established in 2006 by the Canadian and U.S. governments. The BSLC champions the use of softwood lumber products as part of the shift to a more environmentally responsible and economically viable building sector. Sustainably harvested wood products from North America create jobs in rural communities, reduce costs and can help reduce the overall environmental footprint of a home or building. For more information, visit www.softwoodlumber.org. 

Parsons The New School for Design 
Parsons The New School for Design is a global leader in design education, with programs that span the disciplines of design and the fine arts. Parsons prepares students to creatively and critically address the complex conditions of contemporary global society. Its curriculum is geared toward synthesizing rigorous craft with cutting-edge theory and research methods, and encourages collaborative and individual approaches that cut across a wide array of disciplines. The School of Constructed Environments at Parsons is the only integrated school of interior design, lighting design, product design and architecture in the country. For more information, please visit www.newschool.edu/parsons/sce.



Eric Ellis
Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
(202) 785-2324

Deborah Kirschner
Parsons the New School for Design
(347) 763-0861

Christian Huot
reThink Wood
(604) 685-7507


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