2015-2016 Timber in the City


TIMBER IN THE CITY: Urban Habitat Competition

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) is pleased to announce the second Timber in the City Competition for the 2015-2016 academic year. The competition is a partnership between the Binational Softwood Lumber Council (BSLC), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons The New School for Design (SCE). The purpose of the Competition is to engage students to imagine the repurposing of our existing cities with sustainable buildings from renewable resources, offering expedient affordable construction, innovating with new and old wooden materials, and designing healthy living and working environments.


The Challenge 

The competition challenges participants to design 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 project site is in Manhattan’s lower east side in the former Seward Park Urban Redevelopment Area. In 1967, New York City leveled 20 acres on the southern  side of Delancey Street and removed  more than 1,800 low-income  largely  Puerto Rican families,  with a promise  that they would eventually return to new low-income apartments. Competing forces within the neighborhood and the development community long debated whether the area should be used to develop affordable or market rate housing, for commercial or cultural uses, or all of the above. This debate was waged in the community halls of local public school auditoriums and other city meeting places, in newspaper columns, coop board meetings, and at private strategy sessions in individual homes, and eventually a resolution was reached, leading to the currently planned Essex Crossing development.

The Essex Crossing development as currently planned, however, could be criticized for following a larger bulk zoning than ideal, as well as for not requiring the highest degree of innovative and environmentally proactive construction and energy use standards, this competition elicits responses to correct this critical lack, on at least part of the overall development area.

Entrants will be 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 will be challenged to propose construction systems in scenarios that draw optimally on the performance characteristics of not one but a variety of wood technologies.



The competition will challenge participants to interpret, invent, and deploy numerous methods of building systems, with a focus on innovations in wood design on a real site. For thousands of years, solid wood has been used as a building material. Modern timber products and systems have greatly expanded the potential uses of this historic material. Timber is an ideal green building material: it is well suited for a broad range of structural and aesthetic applications, it offers economical construction and high performance characteristics; and wood is an economic driver to maintain forests and protect jobs in rural communities.


Criteria for Judging

Criteria for the judging of submissions will include: timber/wood as the primary structural material, creative and innovative use of timber/wood in the design solution, successful response of the design to its surrounding context, and successful response to basic architectural concepts such as human activity needs, structural integrity, and coherence of architectural vocabulary.

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

+ DOWNLOAD the Full Program (PDF)



March 30, 2016 Registration Deadline
May 25, 2016 Submission Deadline 
July 2016 Winners Announced


Winning students and their faculty sponsors, will receive cash prizes totaling $40,000. The design jury will meet in July of 2016, to select winning projects and honorable mentions. Winners and their faculty sponsors will be notified of the competition results directly. A list of winning projects will be posted on the ACSA website (www.acsa-arch.org). The projects will be presented in an exhibition at Parsons School of Design at The New School on the occasion of the opening of a conference on the socio-political and economic issues of the use of timber in urban environments, and this exhibition will travel to select venues.


First Prize                           Student  $10,000                   Faculty Sponsor  $6,500 + ACSA Annual Meeting registration
Second Prize Student  $7,500 Faculty Sponsor  $5,000 + ACSA Annual Meeting registration
Third Prize Student  $5,000  Faculty Sponsor  $3,500 + ACSA Annual Meeting registration



Students from the U.S. and Canada are eligible to participate in the competition. All student entrants are required to work under the direction of a faculty sponsor from an ACSA member school. Entries will be accepted for individual as well as team solutions. Teams must be limited to a maximum of five individuals.

Additional Links

+ timberinthecity.com
2012-2013 Timber in the the City Competition
+ 2012-2013 Timber in the City Competition WINNERS



For questions please contact:
Eric Wayne Ellis
Monique Thomason
    Allison Smith
Director of Operations and Programs
Programs Manager
Programs Coordinator
202.785.2324 202.785.2324



Image Credit: 
2012-2013 Timber in the City Competition
Honorable Mention: Swamp Machine
Students: Benjamin Ahearn, Kristin Karlsson, Carey Moran, University of Washington
Faculty: Richard Mohler, Elizabeth Golden, University of Washington