Integrated Wood Design

Timber construction is experiencing a resurgence in the United States, largely thanks to innovative, sustainable and cost-effective wood products, fabrication methods and constructed environments achieved through the use of mass timber. 

The University of Arkansas is an emerging center of design and research in mass timber and wood products. This program is unique in its timber- and wood-specific design-focused processes and hands-on learning environments. The M.Des. concentration in Integrated Wood Design soon will be supported by the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, a planned center geared to expanding the use of wood in architectural design, construction and product design. Students in this concentration will benefit from collaborative and transdisciplinary learning scenarios that respond to emerging industry demands.

With a wealth of natural resources, wide availability of timber, central geographic location and legacy of renowned timber architecture, the state of Arkansas offers distinct prospects for educational and professional developments vital to economic expansion. As a premier research institution with wide ranging disciplinary resources, and the Fay Jones School’s national reputation in design innovation, the U of A provides an ideal context to address 21st century challenges arising from the state’s abundant timberland resources, increasing demand for advanced wood construction processes, and expanding industrial production of emerging engineered wood products.

The U of A’s pledge to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to alleviate the adverse impacts of human-induced climate extends to the safe utilization and responsible management of the state’s immense forestland. With about 57 percent of the state covered in forest, roughly 18.4 million acres of productive timberland, Arkansas provides major assets that have yet to be materialized in pursuing innovation in manufacturing and digital fabrication of wood products, with the potential to add billions of dollars to the state’s economy. Wood is poised to become the leading building material and new paradigm of sustainable and healthy design practices. Profound shifts in our global economies, sustainable manufacturing technologies, and creative endeavors call for the integration of high performing artifacts, emerging green materials, and digital fabrication.

The M.Des. concentration in Integrated Wood Design is supported by the Fay Jones School’s architecture, interior architecture and design, and landscape architecture departments; the College of Engineering’s Department of Civil Engineering; the U of A Monticello’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources; the Arkansas Forest Resources Center; and the U.S. Forest Service. This degree concentration is STEM-designated.  


Cross-disciplinary, design-focused studio courses form the backbone of the M.Des. curriculum. Along with the studios, elective courses allow students to craft a forward-focused degree program to advance their own unique professional goals. 

Sample Curriculum in Integrated Wood Design

Fall Semester (15 credit hours total)

  • Advanced Design Studio 1
  • Methods of Design Inquiry
  • Fundamental Wood Theories, Tectonics, and Environmental Response*
  • Timber Design*

Spring Semester (15 credit hours)

  • Advanced Design Studio 2
  • Design Leadership
  • Advanced Wood Production Processes*
  • Environmental Health*

Summer (6 credit hours total)

  • Graduate Residency

* Dependent upon previous coursework and experience, graduate level courses from SUST 5103 Sustainability I, SUST 5202 Sustainability II, and graduate level courses from Civil, Mechanical, Industrial Engineering and Environmental Dynamics, and Public Health on campus, as well as the College of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, may be utilized with approval from the Graduate Coordinator.

Jonathan Boelkins
Kimberley Furlong
Frank Jacobus
Tahar Messadi

Recent news about Integrated Wood at the University of Arkansas

Public Presentations, Exhibition Set for Anthony Timberlands Center Design Competition
Six Finalist Firms Selected for Anthony Timberlands Center Design Competition
Architectural Education and the Future of Wood
Chancellor’s Fund Recipients Announced
Timber! Design Excellence

The M.Des. at the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School offers design graduates and professionals the opportunity for advanced targeted study. Students in this intensive one-year program will achieve specialized knowledge by investigating critical and emerging issues in advanced design studios, graduate-level electives and a professional residency. Other concentrations in Health and Wellness Design, Resiliency Design and Retail and Hospitality Design are open for enrollment, and additional concentrations are planned.

Contact our Graduate Coordinator to learn more!