UO architecture students bring light to Brooklyn, win Timber in the City

Posted by Cole Knutson on Wednesday, Sep. 11 at 9:30 am.

Out of 221 teams and over 1,000 contestants, including some young professionals, three University of Oregon architecture students designed an affordable, environmentally sound community to win the Timber in the City: Urban Habitats competition held by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

“To me, the design is a vibrant cultural living place. It strives to be a true Brooklyn place that is affordable and economically available for people to live there,” said Alex Kenton, who worked on the project.

Consisting of 175 housing units and 185,000 square feet set in Brooklyn, New York, the design calls for the use of a new building technology called cross-laminated timber (CLT). CLT is sturdy enough to act as a substitute for concrete, but at the same time promotes light, which is what the group of UO students tried to harvest in their design from the depths of New York.

“We took a really close look at what had been done historically,” said team member Jason Rood, “and it’s shortfallings in terms of not enough light in rooms or very narrow hallways, closed proximity and how do you kind of take those things and make them better — widen them up or give a little light, but keep them as affordable as possible.”

The answer to many of the ideas that Rood and his colleagues wanted to capture in their design was found in CLT. It gave the design the structural stability to overcome climate issues such as floods, but also provided a refreshing nature feel to the Brooklyn community.

“On the east side there’s a wonderful community garden, and just a few blocks away there’s huge parks, you know, giant playfields, in New York which you would think is just absolutely jam-packed,” Rood said. “It’s kind of one of the last areas in New York that actually has open land, and parks, and things that aren’t really  kind of clustered and so tight. We really wanted to add to that.”

In order to complete their award-winning vision, the group of UO students worked for five and a half weeks, despite the fact that the competition had begun at the beginning of the school year. Several other teams had a semester to complete their work.

Rood joked that because of the team’s limited time, they were working “eight days a week” to get it done on time. As the results show, that’s all it took.

“It’s demanding, but what you get out of it is so worth it,” Rood said.