JACKSON, Miss. - Construction of a studio that promotes innovative wood product design and building methods will soon begin at Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture thanks to a $10,000 grant and matching money.

The grant was awarded by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc., an international non-profit promoting responsible forest management. The Mississippi Forestry Foundation (MFA) and other industry groups added a combined $12,000 in a grant match.

Fourth-year undergraduate students at MSU will use the studio, which is called TIMB(R): Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined. Students will engage in a competition to design plans for a mid-rise wooden structure that could become a showcase for wood building design in the state, as well as serving as an office space for the MFA. The winning design probably won’t be built, but it will provide MFA the chance to conjure interest and investment for a like-minded project.

MSU architecture assistant professor Jacob A. Gines will use a portion of the funding for a design studio, scheduled for this fall and tailored for fourth-year undergraduate students. The studio will focus on recent innovations in wood products and construction methods, said MSU on their website.

Gines said recent innovations in wood design technology, such as cross laminated timber where thicker wood panels run perpendicular throughout the structures’ frames, are opening doors to taller wood construction with better fire ratings.

“These highly engineered wood products allow us to increase the strength and span properties of wood, so we can build higher while addressing life safety issues,” he said.

With a showcase wood building that would demonstrate those technologies, Gines sees an opportunity for Mississippi to become a leader in the Southeast region in promoting mid-rise wood-frame construction, said MSU. He said that would help the state’s economy.

MSU architecture students already have experience with wooden architecture. Last year, they designed a 20-story wooden building for an urban Manhattan setting.

Innovations in wood buildings and interest in wood-frame construction is gaining momentum around the country, and around the world.