Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L Anderson Design Center / Marlon Blackwell Architect

Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L Anderson Design Center / Marlon Blackwell Architect

© Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley + 38

  • Interior Design Of Record: Marlon Blackwell Architect - Meryati Johari Blackwell, Assoc. AIA, ASID Director of Interiors
  • Interior Design Associate: Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects - Kimberly Prescott ASID Director of Interiors.
  • General Contractor: Baldwin & Shell Construction Company
  • Structural Engineer: Kenneth Jones & Associates, Inc.
  • Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire Protection Engineer: TME, Inc.
  • Civil Engineer: Development Consultants, Inc
  • Landscape Architect: Crafton Tull Sparks
  • Lighting Designer: Renfro Design Group
  • Geotechnical Consultant: Grubbs Hoskyn Barton & Wyatt, Inc
  • Preservation Consultant: John Milner Associates, Inc.
  • Concrete Consultant: Clarkson Consulting, Inc.
  • Acoustics And Daylighting Consultant: Dr. Tahar Messadi
  • Leed Project Team: Marlon Blackwell Architect and Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects.
  • Curtain Wall Consultant: Heitmann & Associates, Inc.
  • Accessibility Consultant: LCM Architects
  • Construction Document Coordination Review Consultants: RediCheck North. LLC.
  • Owner: University of Arkansas
  • Cost: $32,427,555
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© Timothy Hursley
© Timothy Hursley

Text description provided by the architects. The Steven L. Anderson Design Center, a 37,000 square foot addition to Vol Walker Hall, designed by a collaboration of Marlon Blackwell Architects and Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, is intended to be a modern complement to the traditional architecture of Vol Walker Hall, sensitive to the past without being imitative of it and conceived to enhance the spatial character of the historic campus plan. To achieve these design goals, the addition was conceived in plan and massing to harmonize with Vol Walker Hall’s proportions and spatial configuration. The footprint of the addition replicates that of the traditional structure’s entry (eastern portico) wing, physically and conceptually balancing the old and the new.  Similarly, regulating lines established by the classical composition and rigorous proportions of string courses, cornice lines, traditional fenestration and moldings of Vol Walker Hall generated the organizational system for articulating and sizing the Indiana limestone panels that clad the north and south walls of the Anderson Design Center and the sleek fritted-glass panes, designed to ameliorate the harshness and heat of western light, that comprise its curtain wall. 

Section  Through Fire Stairs
Section Through Fire Stairs

A visual sliver of glass in the north and south elevations, the transparent wells of its new fire-stairs, creates a respectful seam that negotiates the addition and the original structure from the exterior, yet, from the interior, frames and underscores the carefully calculated relationships between the two. Meticulously fabricated architectural concrete, together with the contextually fitting stone cladding, vest the addition with a gravitas, a feeling of weight and substance, that honors its historic counterpart. So too, the memory and dignity of Vol Walker Hall’s entry way, marked by triangular pediment and ionic pilasters, resonates in the contemporary articulation of the new addition’s western portal, graciously set back under a generous overhang, its tripartite glass doorway emulating with exactitude the proportions of the old entrance, visible in the distance with a glance through the grand promenade that connects the two spaces inside. Construction of the addition was facilitated by the removal of the long defunct and dysfunctional stack area of Vol Walker, an inhabitable relic of its original function as university library that defied rehabilitation.

© Timothy Hursley
© Timothy Hursley

As its spatial envelope makes apparent, the Steven L. Anderson Design Center has increased significantly the Fay Jones School’s studio space—the very heart of a school of architecture. Studios occur on all floors, from ground level to the fourth floor. The Ken and Linda Sue Schollmier Lecture Hall, which rises from the first floor to the second floor of the addition’s northwest side, provides a state-of-the-art lecture hall that accommodates approximately 200 seats, as well as a “standing room” gallery.  On the southwest side of the main floor, the Fred and Mary Smith Exhibition Gallery and Terrace, anchors the addition—its tall windows creating a store-front like reference point that reveals the processes and products of design to the campus community and its graceful terrace, minimally articulated with slender concrete border and glass balustrade, projects out towards the familiar pathways of the historic campus plan.

© Timothy Hursley
© Timothy Hursley

One of the most compelling architectural features of the addition is its fourth-floor sky terrace, which both affords a spectacular view of the Boston Mountains and, at closer range, provides a picture-window frame for observing nearby elements of the campus historic district, engaging a dialogue that extends beyond the discrete relationship of the Steven L. Anderson Design Center and Vol Walker Hall to the relationship of the addition with its gothic revival neighbors and the neo-traditional Mullins Library to the west. The fourth (upper-most) floor of the addition also includes a classroom, directly under the 20-feet long rectangular skylight that illuminates the second-floor gallery, another element that bridges historic and new fabric. A line of faculty offices marks the western edge of the plan, each with a view to the building’s green roof, a visible reminder of the ethics of sustainability that are central to the preservation ethos that provides the conceptual framework for this new construction.

Section through Main Axis
Section through Main Axis

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Project location

Address: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L Anderson Design Center / Marlon Blackwell Architect" 11 Dec 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/456361/vol-walker-hall-and-the-steven-l-anderson-design-center-marlon-blackwell-architect/> ISSN 0719-8884

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