The new sculpture studio facility for the University of Arkansas Art Department is the first and defining building for a new remote district of campus appropriately located in a 3.8-acre raw industrial brownfield block in south Fayetteville.
In a design partnership with el dorado inc, an existing warehouse structure is transformed and expanded into a stark and simple form, yet housing complex and technical programming for the art department. The existing frame is made efficient by introducing a second floor within the volume. The bright palette, purposeful use of natural daylight, and highly sophisticated spaces for the crafting of various media are underscored by the simple use of plan and section to interconnect students, faculty, and the public between studios, galleries, and exterior porches.
The 33,000 square foot program houses open and well-lit studio space, generous corridors providing ample display and critique space, and walls designed to be durable in accommodation of presenting student work. The lighting is efficient and flexible. The environments are purposefully designed to be neutral, to serve as a backdrop to the work being done.
The project resides along the Tsa La Gi trail, part of the recently expanded green network of the city, linking the communities of Northwest Arkansas. Being on the trail offers an opportunity to connect the Art Department, and eventually other departments in the District, with the broader Fayetteville community in non-traditional ways.
As the pioneering project in the new district, the building and site design work collaboratively to allow proper access for material manipulation, manage hydrology, overcome brownfield conditions, and celebrate the emerging art and design community. The project is a chance to connect with cultural activities going on outside of the university, exposing students and faculty to a unique set of learning opportunities. Through a process of select renovation and careful addition, the result is architecture that transcends its humble origins, setting the tone for an ambitious new academic district beyond the traditional campus.