Wood Comp 2020

The annual Alabama Forestry Student Design Competition, fondly known as “Wood Comp,” recently completed its 55th year. This year, Wood Comp 2020 acknowledged the student competition as a historical part of the second-year design studio curriculum, while challenging students to understand the advancement of wood as a building material.  Exposing students to the impact of Engineered Wood Products (EWPs) on the global climate and local economy introduced students to wood products’ role in architecture, and how to design within material constraints. Alabama, as a timber rich state, has long been a leader in the national forest products industry, and recently become a hub for EWP’s; students visited SmartLam North America in Dothan, the southeast’s first cross-laminated timber plant (CLT).

For Wood Comp 2020, students were asked to design a pavilion built primarily from CLT.  The pavilion itself will serve as a meeting site for a 2020-21 colloquium, hosted by Auburn University, and sited at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) located at the 5.6-acre Sunny Slope estate off S. College Street.  The pavilion must have room for 20 users to engage in activities including round table discussions, presentations and workshops.  The designs were expected to consider site engagement, include an adjacent exterior space, and provide shelter from the sun and rain.  Students were asked to present a realistic approach to the use of CLT, exhibiting an understanding to material capabilities.  As incentive, the first-prize competition entry will be manufactured full-scale on the OLLI campus in a partnership with APLA and SmartLam’s North America.

An invited jury reviewed the student projects in two phases; jurors perused all projects anonymously, compiling a “short-list” of work selected for student question and answer session with the jury.  Project winners were then selected after further jury deliberation.  Jurors for Wood Comp 2020 included Chirstian Ayala (Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects), Christopher Meyer (Miami University School of Architecture), and Amir Shahrohki (SHoP Architects).

Following the Q&A session, the jury announced prize winners were:

  • First Place: Meagan Mitchell
  • Second Place: Tres Carter
  • Third Place: Alexis Warner

The jury also identified projects that, despite not meeting their criteria for place-winning, had admirable components:

  • Best Drawings: James Foo
  • Best Model: Matt Repsher
  • Best Concept: Ana Vasquez

Announced later, but included here, are the top three non-short-listed projects as selected by the student body:

  • Student Choice First Place: Carter Mann
  • Student Choice Second Place (tied): Matt Repsher
  • Student Choice Second Place (tied): Naomi Tony-Alabi