The swath of parkland along Coleman Creek balances the denser academic and residential development on either side of campus. Quadrangles, courts, and plazas are integral to the developed areas, giving the campus an elegant urbanity and creating a variety of places for gathering. Buildings are sited to retain the extensive pine woodlands characteristic of the campus, and the master plan calls for a vegetation management plan to preserve and augment the woodlands with replacement native pines and hardwoods. Collectively, the proposed open spaces create a cohesive system of interrelated landscapes that unify the campus.
Coleman Creek Greenway
“A signature landscaped area along Coleman Creek that draws people from both the campus and community,” as called for in the strategic plan, is central to the campus vision. A 47-acre greenway designed around a restored and enhanced Coleman Creek serves as a major recreational and environmental resource to the campus and larger community, occupying approximately 17 percent of the total planning area. The 47 acres includes the wooded area within the Methodist Children’s Home property.
Extending from Asher Avenue to West 20th Street, the greenway unites the campus and ties it to the larger community. In the north-south direction, bicycle and pedestrian paths connect to the Fourche Creek Wetlands and War Memorial Park. East to west, seven bridges cross the creek, linking the campus and neighborhoods via landscaped walkways. An “alumni wall”–a series of seat walls inscribed with the names of UALR alumni–traces the pedestrian path along the creek between West 28th Street and Asher Avenue.
Other opportunities for public art or interpretive elements that enrich the greenway as a cultural and educational resource include recognition that the southern boundary of the campus at Asher Avenue follows the Trail of Tears, and inclusion of features along the greenway that tie the campus to its larger context and establish its place in history, such as a sundial, a solar system model, and a geologic/cosmologic timeline. These and all other proposals must be evaluated and studied in detail as part of the overall design of the Coleman Creek Greenway to ensure that they are well integrated and enhance the experience of the greenway.”
The intent is to restore the creek waterway and associated floodplain to improve water quality downstream, while enhancing the aesthetics of the creek. Included in this process are repair of the creek bed and eroded edges, design of a sequence of ponding events to capture sediments and pollutants, introduction of engineered flood control where needed, and planting a native riparian landscape along the creek edge. The creek corridor is envisioned as two distinct environments. From West 20th to 28th Street, naturalistic remediation and design will retain the sense of an undisturbed creekway meandering through woodlands, with trails and boardwalks.
Sedimentation ponding in this area will use mostly aquatic plants. From West 28th Street to Asher Avenue, the remediation will be more architectonic, with a hard edge along the western side to allow access to the waterway, using a combination of long banks of steps, overlooks, etc. The eastern side of the creek fronting the residential areas will have a more natural, sloped edge with park-like expanses of grass, groupings of hardwood and flowering trees, and trails. The eastern edge will provide the setting for an outdoor sculpture collection.
Extending from the southern end of campus to the Stephens Center, College Walk is the campus “main street,” moving through and alongside a variety of open spaces. With its landscaped courts, quads, and plazas, this tree-lined promenade provides the “urban” experience of the campus in contrast with the meandering, park-like feel of Coleman Creek Greenway. The design of College Walk will be consistent along its length, using UALR’s standard pedestrian lighting with banners, benches, kiosks, signature planting, etc. to reinforce its role as the campus main street and to provide ample opportunities to perch, people-watch, and gather.
At the intersection of Donaghey Student Center and Oppenheimer Library— two important campus buildings symbolic of community and student learning—University Green serves as a central common and ceremonial arrival court for Campus Drive. The green is sized to accommodate recreational soccer and football, art and music festivals, outdoor performances, and other gatherings.
Donaghey Student Center Plaza
Framed by the Student Union, Donaghey Student Center, and Stabler Hall, the Donaghey Student Center Plaza serves as a large-scale, central urban space for student activities, events, and the important people-watching that contributes to an active campus environment. This space visually and physically connects the important Donaghey Student Center with College Walk and the Cooper Fountain Plaza and associated quadrangle facing Dickinson Hall.
Education Building Plaza
Developed within the footprint of the former Education Building, this terraced plaza serves as an outdoor classroom and transitional landscape between the historic and Dickinson Hall quads. The design of the plaza recalls the former building—one of the earliest on the campus—and celebrates the College of Education as a cornerstone of the UALR curriculum.
Academic Quads, Courtyards, and Plazas
Academic and support services buildings are grouped around landscaped quadrangles, courtyards, and plazas to provide places for informal engagement, learning, special events, recreation, and play. These spaces are designed as a sequence of experiences that, together with College Walk and Coleman Creek Greenway, create a cohesive campus open space system. The wooded canopy provides a scenic backdrop; however, these critical spaces, purposeful in their design, give structure to the campus.
Residential Quads and Courtyards
Residential buildings are grouped around landscaped courtyards that provide more private, personal space for informal recreation and play.
Site Design Elements
There are a number of important design elements that provide the next level of detail to the campus landscape and reinforce the overall organization of the campus. These elements would be addressed in the campus landscape master plan and the design of Coleman Creek Greenway (see Chapter 4, Further Studies) and include:
- UALR’s signature fence, developed along the entire campus edge, offset from roadways and sidewalks.
- Seven pedestrian bridges crossing Coleman Creek.
- Campus-wide hardscape, furnishings and fixtures.
- Signature landscapes for:
- Quadrangles, courtyards, plazas, gardens, memorials, etc.
- Major campus streets (large canopy trees).
- Major pedestrian corridors (primarily flowering and small specimen canopy trees).
- Buffer/edges (hardwood canopy trees, and evergreen trees and shrubs where screening is needed).