University of Arkansas breaks ground on Vol Walker Hall addition

All photos by Todd Gill / Enlarge
University of Arkansas Chancellor David Gearhart speaks Friday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Vol Walker Hall renovation project. Sitting alongside Gearhart is Marlon Blackwell, professor and primary architect for the project.

University of Arkansas officials last week celebrated the start of another project – the renovation and expansion of Vol Walker Hall, home to the Fay Jones School of Architecture.

The 34,320-square-foot addition, made possible by a $10 million gift from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, will be named in honor of the foundation’s president, Steve Anderson.

The Steven L. Anderson Design Center will enable the school to house the architecture and landscape architecture departments under one roof, along with the interior design program, which became part of the school in July 2010.

Southwest corner of the building

“It’ll become a much more dynamic place, with everybody under one roof and more opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration,” said Marlon Blackwell, professor and primary architect for the project. “It’s going to make this a much more potent unit of the university. When you think about architecture as a transformative act, certainly this will be transformative for the school, for Vol Walker as a building, and in some ways for the campus, in terms of how you’ll now be allowed to move through the campus.”

The addition, which is expected to be complete in time for the 2013-2014 school year, will also allow the architecture school to increase enrollment by at least 20 percent.

With the addition expected to cost $13 million, and a concurrent renovation of Vol Walker Hall estimated at $19.8 million, the total cost of the project could reach $32.8 million.

“The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation’s generous support for the University of Arkansas over the years has been a key factor in the U of A’s rise as a nationally prominent university,” said UA Chancellor David Gearhart. “This latest gift will enhance the quality and resourcefulness of our highly regarded design programs, and in doing so, will further the Reynolds Foundation’s legacy of investing in Arkansas’ future.”

The building is one of many that are currently under construction on the Fayetteville campus including a $27.1 million renovation and expansion of Ozark Hall.

3D model located inside Mullins Library