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ESF Discovery Challenge: Mass Timber Competition

Announcing The 2021 SUNY ESF Mass Timber Design Competition

The competition seeks leading students to develop and apply new concepts and strategies to develop a mass timber design which incorporates innovative fabrication and assembly methods.

The design competition is structured both to engage NYS stakeholders in the academic community, as well as to capture the imagination of leading fabricators, designers, and thinkers from around the world.

Design Proposals must address the principal challenge:

  • Design of a small pavilion or library addition build on top of current first floor.
  • Development of cross-laminated timber fabrication and assembly methods
  • Use of New York State native softwood and hardwood species
  • Use of digital fabrication technology
  • Demonstration of project scalability

Competition Sites

Entries may consist of either of the following project sites and programs:

SITE #1: SUNY ESF bus stop. This site consists of a small bus stop and adjacent lawn area opposite a large student parking lot. Competition entries that use this site must propose a mass timber bus stop pavilion shelter.

SITE #2: SUNY ESF F. Franklin Moon Library. Built in 1968, Moon Library is home to one of the nation's best collections of books and educational materials dedicated to the environment and natural resources fields. Competition entries for this site must propose an upper level mass timber addition to the library's two-level, 42,450 square foot concrete structure. Proposals should utilize an open library study area design program.

Successful design proposals will embrace mass timber design strategies, solving multiple challenges including material sourcing, sustainable fabrication and construction methods, and visual/aesthetic connection of the design to its location. Designs will be economically and socially sustainable, inclusive and equitable, and visually compelling. Teams may submit Design Proposals for a single site or both sites. If submitting for both sites, two proposals must each proposal must be individually submitted.


3 winning proposals will be selected per competition site. A total $12,500 (US) will be awarded in prize money to competition winners as follows:

SITE #1:

  • 1st Prize, Site #1: $1,000
  • 2nd Prize, Site #1: $750
  • 3rd Prize, Site #1: $500

SITE #2:

  • 1st Prize, Site #2: $2,500
  • 2nd Prize, Site #2: $1,500
  • 3rd Prize, Site #2: $750

Competition Schedule

  • Call For Proposals: January 10, 2021
  • Submission Deadline: March 1, 2021
  • Awards Announced: April 1, 2021


To register your team, send an email to with a team summary including list of team members, professional/institutional affiliations, and email contact information for all team members. A primary contact must be identified.


This call for entries is open to individuals or teams comprised of full-time students at NYS accredited institutions of higher education and/or professionals in the disciplines of sustainable design, engineering, forestry, construction management, architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, art, and other allied disciplines. Submissions by multi-disciplinary teams are encouraged. NYS residents who are full-time matriculated students at other accredited institutions of higher education are also eligible.