Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L. Anderson Design Center

Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architects

Associate architect: Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects

Owner:  University of  Arkansas

Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas

At the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville, this elegant restoration and modern addition has expanded studio, fabrication, and administrative facilities for the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. Uniting all of the school’s departments for the first time under one roof, this project strengthens its identity and fosters a collaborative, cross-disciplinary learning environment.

The project revolved around two main elements: renovation of the 1935 Vol Walker Hall, which has housed the campus library and design school since 1968; and insertion of the contemporary 37,000-square-foot Steven L. Anderson Design Center. To make room for the addition and provide a proper entry from the west, the design team excised unused stack spaces. The center is a modern complement to the hall’s neoclassical architecture. Its vocabulary resonates with its traditional counterpart through massing, proportion, and materials while still announcing the progressive design school within.

"The expanded facility unites all three departments – architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design – under one roof for the first time, reinforcing the School’s identity and creating a cross-disciplinary, collaborative learning environment."  ~ Jury statement

The Indiana limestone cladding and steel windows of Vol Walker Hall, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, were meticulously restored. Inside, the renovation straddles a middle ground of classicism and minimalism, with white interior finishes providing seamless continuity into the addition. Connections old and new are revealed through glass-enclosed stairwells that bathe the central spaces with daylight.

Critical for design education, review and collaboration spaces are integrated throughout. A new 200-seat auditorium provides much-needed space for lectures and school events, while the center’s roof terrace and outdoor classroom offer sweeping views of the campus and surrounding landscape.

As the school navigates its fourth academic year in its new and renovated space, the project has already exerted its influence on students. Beyond serving as ideal models for historic preservation and contemporary design, the project has spurred a wealth of new collaborative curricula, interdisciplinary advanced design studios, and innovative research partnerships.

"Consistent orchestration of natural light and a sparse but powerful use of red to make landmark moments in the building is invigorating. " ~ Jury statement

Additional information

Consultant - Accessibility: LCM Architects

Consultant - Acoustics and Daylighting: Dr. Tahar Messadi

Consultant - Concrete: Clarkson Consulting, Inc.

Consultant - Construction Document Coordination Review: RediCheck North LLC

Consultant - Curtain Wall: Heitmann & Associates, Inc.

Consultant - Lighting Designer: Renfro Design Group

Consultant - Preservation: John Milner Associates, Inc.

Engineer - Civil: Development Consultants, Inc.

Engineer - Geotechnical: Grubbs Hoskyn Barton & Wyatt, Inc

Engineer - MEP+FP: TME, Inc.

Engineer - Structural: Kenneth Jones & Associates, Inc.

General Contractor: Baldwin & Shell Construction Company

Interior Design Associate: Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects

Landscape Architect: Crafton Tull Sparks

LEED Project Team: Marlon Blackwell Architect and Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects


Lee Becker, FAIA (Chair), Hartman-Cox Architects, Washington, DC

Anne Marie Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects, Jackson, Mississippi

Susan Johnson, AIA, Strata, Kansas City, Missouri

Anna Jones, Assoc. AIA, MOD Design, Des Moines

Caitlin Kessler, AIAS Student Representative, University of Arizona, Tucson

Marilee Meacock, AIA, KSS Architects, Princeton, New Jersey

Robert Miller, FAIA, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Seattle

Sharon Prince, Grace Farms Foundation, New Canaan, Connecticut

Rob Rogers, FAIA, Rogers Partners, New York City

Image credits

Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L Anderson Design Center

Timothy Hursley

Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L Anderson Design Center

Marlon Blackwell Photography

Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L Anderson Design Center

Timothy Hursley

Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L Anderson Design Center

Timothy Hursley

Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L Anderson Design Center

Timothy Hursley