University of Arkansas alumnus John Ed Anthony and his wife, Isabel, are donating $7.5 million to the University of Arkansas to support construction of a new $15 million materials innovation center in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. The center’s primary focus is on architectural design innovation in timber and wood.
The gift counts toward Campaign Arkansas, the UA’s $1.25 billion capital campaign, will create the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation. It is subject to approval by the UA Board of Trustees.
Planning and programming of the new materials innovation facility is scheduled to begin later this summer.
“The Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation will engage one of our state’s key industries and strengthen the relationship the University of Arkansas has with the southern half of our state,” Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said in a statement. “With the Anthony family’s generous gift and additional university support, this center will provide innovative opportunities and advance the use of natural materials in design.”
The center will serve as home to the Fay Jones School’s planned graduate program in timber and wood design. It will also house the school’s existing design-build program and an expanded digital fabrication laboratory.
Located in the Windgate Art and Design District, the five-story, 50,000-square-foot building will include studios, seminar and conference rooms, faculty offices and housing for visiting faculty. The center will also be equipped with a small auditorium and a public exhibition space.
“The forests of southern Arkansas have always been the focus of its communities,” John Ed Anthony said in a statement. “My life’s work has been the management of these forests and the manufacture of products from them. Modern technology and innovation are now offering us the opportunity to take giant leaps forward in the utilization and application of this renewable and sustainable resource. The creation of the new design center under the leadership of Dean Peter MacKeith will place our university in a leadership role in this endeavor.”
Anthony, who was inducted into the state’s business hall of fame in 2012, holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Sam M. Walton College of Business and is chairman of Anthony Timberlands Inc. in Bearden. He previously served on the UA Board of Trustees.
“The vision of John Ed and Isabel Anthony is matched only by their generosity — and their simultaneous commitment to the university’s educational mission and the timber-based communities of Arkansas,” Dean Peter MacKeith said in a statement. “While the students, faculty and academic programs of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design will surely benefit from the design research and resources of the Anthony Timberlands Center, the greater benefits and value of this extraordinary design initiative will accrue to the citizens of this forested state, in both environmental and economic terms.”
The university, according to a news release, is already a national leader in the design and construction of mass timber academic buildings, including the University Libraries library storage facility and the Stadium Drive Residence Halls, both under construction. And the Fay Jones School is a leading advocate for innovation in timber and wood design.