Submission Deadline: May 22, 2019

2019 Timber Competition

Timber in the City


May 2018

Competition Announced

May 22, 2019

Submission Deadline

July 2019

Winners Announced


The diversified program proposes several spatial conditions, span distances, use and environmental criteria in order to elicit a diverse group of architectural compositions and technological solutions that incorporate the use of differing structural, framing, and detail-oriented components. Such conditions may be:

  • Vertical mid-rise framing (i.e. mass timber systems such as nail laminated timber, dowel laminated timber and cross laminated timber)
  • Interior partitioning (stud framing or modular panelized systems)
  • Exterior cladding (modular assemblies)
  • Long-span structure (glu-lam beams, mechanically laminated timber, and other composite members)

Community Wellness Center

The community wellness center will serve both residents of the on-site housing and also residents and workers from nearby neighborhoods. Drawing on the historic role of the gymnasium as a center for both physical and also mental and emotional health, the center will include a range of spaces for individual and group exercise, as well as multifunctional large-span spaces for pools and indoor team sports that are envisioned to be able to serve community- wide events. The intersection between the pool and the adjacent East River, and the fitness area and the riverfront park are key site conditions to consider in the organization and design of this component of the project.

Early Childhood Education Center

Complementing the residential portion of this project is the integration of a early childhood education center for 135 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years (infants through pre-kindergarten). With changes in family structures and the increasing requirement that both parents work to meet the challenges of living in cities, the role performed by early childhood education centers in the long-term development of children is increasing in importance. Unfortunately, a significant number of such facilities are limited by tight budgets and compromised facilities. This competition asks students to carefully consider the spatial, material and organization of this key educational facility in the development of young children from scratch. Careful attention needs to be placed on the choice of materials to support the growth of infants and young children whose bodies are highly susceptible to the influence of their environment, and the interrelationship between interior learning space and exterior playscapes in a city where children have limited access to outdoor learning environments.

The early childhood education center will provide 10 individual classrooms broken down by age, from infant continuity rooms, to preschool and then prekindergarten. Children attending this facility are to be drawn from the new housing on the site, and the surrounding neighborhood. These classrooms are complemented by gross motor rooms (playrooms), indoor and exterior play/inquiry area, and staff and administrative support spaces. With classrooms dedicated to pre-kindergarten aged children, this program intentionally dovetail into the New York City Universal Pre-K (UPK) program launched in 2014. The program enables students in the country’s largest public school district to begin school a year before kindergarten – this year, over 70,000 4-year-olds were enrolled in the program across the five boroughs.


The program challenges entrants to imagine new possibilities for the future of urban living. What is the relationship between the individual dwelling unit and the collective aggregation of units? How does a large housing development inculcate a strong sense of community through its programming, organization, and form? What is the relationship between interior and exterior spaces, uses, and views and how is daylighting incorporated into each unit? What are the health issues related to the choice of materials and how can the use of timber and wood be leveraged to create living spaces that are connected to natural systems and biophilic responses to constructed environments. Residences in this project are a mix of small units for single or double occupancy and larger, family-based units with more than one bedroom. All apartments must have exposure to natural light and air, as well as rooms that meet minimum

Program Distribution

Community Wellness Center

Sq. Ft.
Large open indoor track/court sports7,50017,500
Group fitness class rooms75032,250
Weight/cardio machine room3,00013,000
Olympic lap pool3,50013,500
Family pool1,50011,500
Locker Rooms50021,000
Staff and administration5001500
Community Wellness Center Subtotal19,750
Gross (Mechanical / Circulation)15% SF2,963
Community Wellness Center Total22,713

Early Childhood Education Center

Sq. Ft.
Classrooms age 0-2 (8 kids each)
*Must include: one single-occupant child’s WCs, one small laundry room, one changing table
Classrooms, age 2-3 (15 kids each)
* Must include: two single-occupant child’s WCs, one small laundry room
Classrooms, Pre-K (18 kids)
* Must include: two single-occupant child’s WCs, one small laundry room
Indoor inquiry/play rooms1,50023,000
Art classroom1,50011,500
Music/dance classroom1,50011,500
Secure outdoor inquiry/play area4,000 (minimum)14,000
Auditorium (300)4,00014,000
Principal’s office2001200
Adult bathrooms502100
Early Childhood Education Center Total24,050


Sq. Ft.
Micro Units325206,500
1 Bedroom6502013,000
2 Bedroom8502521,250
3 Bedroom1,0003535,000
Bike parking1,50011,500
Residential Subtotal80,200
(Mechanical / Circulation)
14% Residential GSF11,228
Residential Total91,428


Program Total145,406
Public Exterior Space (minimum)25,000

Site Information

The site for the competition is located at 42-02 and 42-16 Vernon Boulevard in Queens, New York., immediately south of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge and to the west of the East River overlooking Roosevelt Island. These two parcels are to be considered together as the boundary for the project. An existing historic structure is located on 42-16 Vernon Boulevard and this building is to be kept and integrated into the design of the project. The site is a total of 106,200 square feet and measures 219’ by 510’.

The site was the former home of the New York Architectural Terra-Cotta Works, with the front office building remaining from the original factory complex. The site currently has a flexible and expansive zoning designation that allows for mixed-us development to encourage waterfront development. This zoning allows for an FAR of 10, and includes residential along with commercial designations.

The waterfront of Queens has undergone significant transformation over the last two decades, shifting from industrial and warehouse facilities to increasingly mixed-use and public space designations. The competition anticipates that a public waterfront for pedestrians and cyclists will run north-south, connecting Hunter’s Point developments to the south up to Rainey Park and Socrates Sculpture Park to the north.

Code and Zoning Information

As a basis of design, competitors are to use the 2021 IBC code for mass timber construction. The proposed 2021 code changes to Construction Type IV to allow for additional height with reduced percentages of exposed timber. NYC Building Code is in the process of adopting a new timber code for incorporation into the cities building code and this competition anticipates a future adoption of aspects of the IBC model code. Please note that in reference to timber construction, one of the goals of this competition is to explore new construction opportunities enabled by contemporary timber technology that may not yet be anticipated or fully embraced by the current NYC code. Each entry is encouraged to understand the potential of contemporary timber systems, drawing from available resources and comparable code reviews from other jurisdictions and governmental agencies, as they pertain to new timber and wood systems, to inform the submitted design. Accessibility guidelines need to be followed; refer to the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with the principals of Universal Design. Refer to NYC Zoning Resolution for building setbacks, heights and massing for the M1-5 site.