Urban Design Plan

Building on the land use development framework, the urban design plan gives physical form to the campus vision. With Coleman Creek as its green center, UALR becomes a denser, more urban, and pedestrian-focused campus; building height is increased, where appropriate, to accommodate growth without compromising the character of the campus. The master plan update defines the development capacity of UALR’s 272-acre planning area. Allowing for a balance of built and open space appropriate to an urban institution, the master plan provides for expansion of academic and support space to accommodate enrollment growth to 20,000 students, an increase of 66 percent from the current enrollment of almost 12,000 students.

Bird's-eye perspective of the campus from south of Asher Avenue
Bird’s-eye perspective of the campus from south of Asher Avenue

Using sites freed by road closures, removal of surface parking, and demolition of outmoded buildings, the plan takes full advantage of land east and west of the creek to create a tightly woven composition of buildings and open space. Infill development along College Walk extends and transforms this existing campus corridor into a pedestrian “main street” that links the campus north-south. In the east-west direction, a series of bridges and walkways connects the campus internally and to the surrounding neighborhoods.

The design of the campus edges heightens UALR’s visibility and connection to the community. New buildings along University Avenue, Asher Avenue, and Fair Park Boulevard are oriented to the street and are consistent in scale, height, and density with adjacent development. Well-defined auto entrances announce UALR and provide clear access, as do the many pedestrian-safe walkways that connect the campus to the neighborhoods. At the intersection of University and Asher avenues, the plan creates a “grand front door” as envisioned in the strategic plan, with buildings marking the corner and framing a long view into campus down College Walk. Similarly, a newly designed greenway and restored Coleman Creek open to Asher Avenue and to West 19th Street, providing a window into campus and a link in the regional open space system between the Fourche Creek Wetlands and War Memorial Park.

Buildings, open space, and circulation are conceived together, with buildings sited to shape meaningful outdoor spaces, and buildings and open space linked by a clear system of pathways and streets.

Illustrative Plan


College Walk, the campus north-south pedestrian main street, provides the organizing framework for new development in the campus core. All buildings from Asher Avenue to the Stephens Center are aligned with the walk, either fronting it directly or connected by open space and/or secondary circulation. At either end, signature portal buildings that are open at the first two levels span the walk, acting as both a terminus and gateway. Buildings at the campus edge have a dual orientation inward to the campus and outward to the street. East of Coleman Creek, buildings conform to the existing street pattern, with residential buildings organized around internal courtyards.

In the first phase, the plan calls for removal of the existing University Plaza east structures located in the floodway and floodplain to conform with FEMA requirements and to make room for the creek greenway. Over time, the remaining University Plaza buildings and other inefficient and outmoded campus buildings will be removed and replaced by state-of-the-art facilities that make efficient use of their sites and create a network of open spaces. A total of 463,731 gross square feet (GSF) will be removed. Through renovation and new construction, the plan adds 2,327,640 GSF of space for a net gain of 1,863,909 GSF at build-out, excluding new residential and parking deck construction. Refer to Table III-1 for details.

Aerial perspective of campus from Asher Avenue
Aerial perspective of campus from Asher Avenue

Academic and Support Facilities

University Plaza Site

A total of nine new buildings are proposed for the University Plaza site to establish a south campus core of academic, support, and multi-use facilities that also acts as a new gateway to the community. Buildings are configured to address both Asher and University avenues, create courtyards and quads, and frame the southern extension of College Walk.

In the proposed complex, a signature portal building serves as the terminus to College Walk and a gateway into campus. Two linear buildings sited north of the portal structure frame College Walk and create a central courtyard, while a third building located directly to the east maintains a consistent Asher Avenue edge and encloses a quadrangle formed with the east linear building and parking structure.

Aerial perspective of south campus, the former University Plaza
Aerial perspective of south campus, the former University Plaza

The southwest corner of the campus—which is also the University District’s “identity corner” and southern gateway—is anchored by a signature L-shaped building that holds the street edge along both University and Asher avenues. A second L-shaped building is sited to the northeast to form a courtyard and to screen the parking deck to the north. This building complex is intended to house a mix of uses—academic, outreach, research incubators, café/restaurant, etc.—and provide a symbolic and physical link to the region, signifying UALR’s role as an economic and cultural resource.

South campus gateway--signature architecture and landscape create a new UALR presence at the University District's main intersection of University and Asher avenues
South campus gateway—signature architecture and landscape create a new UALR presence at the University District’s main intersection of University and Asher avenues.

Liner buildings housing support facilities will be located along both parking structures to promote activity and to ensure that the facades are consistent with adjacent buildings.

Along Asher Avenue, buildings are set back from the roadway atop a gentle slope to create a generous landscape edge and provide views of Coleman Creek Greenway to the east.

Academic Core

Northern Expansion – The plan extends the historic core both south and north with fourteen new buildings, two additions, and renovation and façade improvements to three existing facilities. North of the library, four new academic buildings are sited to forge connections with existing facilities along College Walk. In addition, the plan integrates the existing Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business and Economic Development into the core and repositions West 28th Street as the new northern edge of the academic campus. A signature portal building—replacing the existing chancellor’s residence—serves as a symbolic northern gateway into the academic core.

The new CyberCollege is paired with a linear east-west building to establish a link between Engineering Technology and Applied Science and the Reynolds Center. This northern building is especially important since it will allow for an architectural transition and connection to the Reynolds Center, which is isolated from the core campus by its steep topography. A new building north of Fine Arts forms an eastern edge along College Walk and provides an expansion opportunity for the Fine Arts program. The building would be composed of two separate structures connected at the upper floors to allow ground-level emergency, service, and disabled access to the western part of campus.

Aerial perspective of north campus expansion, with new West 28th Street portal building
Aerial perspective of north campus expansion, with new West 28th Street portal building

Table III-1: Buildings Data
Category Key Facility Designation GSF Foot Print Levels Total GSF Area Comments
New Buildings:
A Faculty Commons Assigned 6,800 2 13,600
B Academic / Support Un-Assigned 20,300 4 81,200
C Academic / Support Un-Assigned 19,300 4 77,200
D Residential Commons Assigned 9,600 2 19,200 In Design
E UALR Multi-Use Un-Assigned 38,500 4 154,000 UALR Office, upport & Retail
F Physical Plant A Assigned 12,900 2 25,800
G Physical Plant B Assigned 6,000 2 12,000
H Power Plant Assigned NA 1 NA
I UALR Multi-Use Un-Assigned 21,800 7 152,600 Signature Building
J Academic / Support Un-Assigned 16,200 3 48,600
K Academic / Support Un-Assigned 22,700 7 158,900 Signature Asher Building
L Academic / Support Un-Assigned 31,600 4 126,400 Signature Portal Building
M UALR Multi-Use Un-Assigned 16,500 7 115,500 Signature Asher Building
N UALR Multi-Use Un-Assigned 22,600 7 158,200 Signature Gateway Building
O Academic / Support Un-Assigned 15,600 3 46,800
P Academic / Support Un Assigned 37,000 5 185,000 Signature Portal Gateway Building
Q Academic Un Assigned 19,300 5 96,500
R Academic Un ssigned 19,300 5 96,500
S Academic / Support Un Assigned 15,000 7 105,000
T Academic / Support Un Assigned 15,000 7 105,000
U Academic / Support Un Assigned 30,400 4 121,600
V Signature Academic Building Assigned 28,000 5 140,000
W Theater Addition Assigned 1,200 2 2,400 New Entrance / Lobby
X Administration Expansion Assigned 5,900 2 11,800
Y Library Expansion Assigned 15,900 4 63,600
Z Academic Un-Assigned 19,600 3 58,800 Signature Gateway Building
AA Academic/Support Un Assigned 22,400 4 89,600
BB CyberCollege Assigned 28,700 4 114,800 In Design
CC Academic Un-Assigned 23,700 3 71,100
DD Academic Un-Assigned 14,900 5 74,500
EE Academic Un-Assigned 14,800 3 44,400 Signature Portal
FF Track Bleachers / Rest Rooms Assigned 1
Total Area 82,100 2,570,600 Does not include Housing GSF
Building Renovation:
BR-1 Stabler Hall Assigned 68,802 In Design
BR-2 Residence Hall – Entrance Assigned 15,646 In Design
BR-3 University Plaza-Big Box Un Assigned 139,150 Renovation +-65% of Big Box structure for temporary UALR uses
BR-4 North & South Administration Assigned 49,216
Total Renovated Area 272,814
Traditional-Student R-1 Student Housing (Beds) NA 160 4 NA In Design
R-2 Student Housing (Beds) NA 162 4 NA In Design
R-3 Student Housing (Beds) NA 416 4 NA Apartments & Suites
R-4 Student Housing (Beds) NA 448 4 NA Apartments & Suites
R-5 Student Housing (Beds) NA 448 4 NA Apartments & Suites
Total Beds 1,634
Non-Traditional R-6 Faculty, Staff & Family Units NA 70 2 NA Town Houses
R-7 Faculty, Staff & Family Units NA 150 2 NA Apartments & Town Houses
Total Dwelling Units 220
New Deck Parking:
P-1 32nd Street Deck Expansion NA 45,000 5 700 (+-225,000 GSF)
P-2 University Avenue Deck NA 65,000 5 1,000 (In +-325,000 GSF / Deck to Include a Liner Building)
P-3 Library Expansion Deck NA 30,875 2 190 (+-62,000 GSF / Poss 3-levels)
P-4 Stephens Center Deck NA 94,300 5 1,450 (In 471,250 GSF)
P-5 East Academic Village Deck NA 54,035 4 665 (In 216,125 GSF / Deck to Include a Liner Building)
P-6 Coleman Creek Drive Deck NA 97,500 5 1,500 (In 487,500 GSF / Deck to Include a Liner Building)
Total Spaces 5,505

Urban Design Plan Buildings

Historic Core – Four new buildings and the renovations of five existing buildings are proposed for the historic academic core. The plan calls for the removal of Larson Hall and the Education, Physics, and Earth Sciences buildings. A plaza/outdoor classroom is planned to fit within the footprint of the former Education Building to recall its early role in the development of the campus and to create a transitional landscape between the historic and Dickinson Hall quads. Earth Sciences is replaced by a new signature gateway building located at the western pedestrian entrance on University Avenue, activating this edge of campus. An expansion to the Ottenheimer Library extends the architectural edge northward along College Walk, and a 2-story garage attached to the eastern side of the library expansion helps to frame the University Green, providing close-in staff, visitor, and accessible parking. A roof terrace at the second level of the garage serves as an overlook to the commons and Coleman Creek Greenway beyond.

Aerial perspective of historic core campus
Aerial perspective of historic core campus

A new linear building on the old Larson Hall site frames the historic quadrangle and the new University Avenue main entrance. A new academic/support building with expansion space for the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance and for athletic and recreation programs is located south of the Athletic Field House; establishing an architectural edge along both the new east-west pedestrian walk and the eastern side of Coleman Creek Greenway.

Two additions to existing buildings are proposed. The first is a new University Theater entrance that re-focuses the theater to a renovated formal courtyard connected to College Walk. The second addition is a new northern wing to the Administration Building North (made possible by the removal of the Education Building) that balances the building’s geometry and extends an architectural edge along College Walk and the historic quadrangle. The expansion also provides an opportunity to renovate and improve the façade of the existing structure, such as adding windows to enliven the pedestrian experience and provide much-needed interior daylighting. The plan also calls for a new glass, atrium-style entrance at the southern end of the South Administration Building to provide better access.

Renovations and façade improvements are proposed for two core academic facilities: Stabler Hall and Fribourgh Hall. The plan recommends that these facilities be upgraded to meet current technology standards and provide a more user-friendly environment, including indoor circulation and windows to provide natural daylighting, which has been shown to stimulate learning.

Academic Core “Bridge” – Five new buildings are proposed as a new academic “bridge” between the historic campus core and the new University Plaza site. This area currently is occupied by a number of support and academic facilities and surface parking lots that will be relocated outside this important central area of campus. New L-shaped buildings are sited to frame a series of open spaces similar in scale and character to the original campus quadrangles and to establish east and west gateways to the campus core—one at the reconfigured University Avenue main entrance and the other at Coleman Creek Drive (formerly the southern segment of West Campus Drive). A portal building faces the University Avenue entrance to allow views into the new quadrangle and Coleman Creek Greenway beyond. The buildings would house academic uses on the west side, with opportunities for academic, support, and multi-use on the east.

Aerial perspective of academic core bridge campus
Aerial perspective of academic core bridge campus

Perspective of University Drive arrival court
Perspective of University Drive arrival court

Physical and Central Plants

The physical and central plants are relocated east of Coleman Creek just south of the student commons, freeing land in the academic core for new construction and open space. Facing Fair Park Boulevard, the physical plant building helps to create a continuous building edge along the neighborhood main street. The central plant is set back from the street and screened from the creek by the existing woodlands and additional planting. The internal circulation system allows service vehicles to access the entire campus from this location without having to use city streets.

Aerial perspective of new physical plan complex
Aerial perspective of new physical plant complex

Housing and Student Life

Strengthening the sense of campus community through expanded on-campus student housing is one of the University’s strategic objectives. The UALR Student Housing Analysis calls for the addition of a minimum of 789 beds by the year 2008, which is achieved in Phases 1 and 2 of the master plan. Ultimately, the plan provides for 1,630 additional beds of student housing and 220 units of faculty, staff, family student, and specialty housing in several locations east of Coleman Creek. (These numbers, however, do not include any potential apartment units located in the upper levels of the student commons.) It should be noted that the total 1,936 student beds—(1,630 new + 306 existing = 1,936)—is still only 10 percent of the projected enrollment of 20,000 students at build-out, compared with the target maintained by many urban campuses of 30–40 percent of students living on campus.

Undergraduate Residential Village
The first new student housing is planned around the existing dorm in the area immediately west of Fair Park Boulevard between West 30th and 32nd streets to create an immediate critical mass of students. The existing dorm will be reoriented to Fair Park Boulevard, with a new entrance facing the street. Constructed in two phases, the complex adds six new 4-story residences accommodating approximately 736 students in suites and/or apartment-style housing, for a total of 1,042 beds. A commons building located at the center of the complex—with student offices and meeting rooms, a convenience store, and the campus housing office—serves as a 24-hour gathering spot.

Elevation of residential village commons (top) with perspective of residential village, Phase 1 Housing (bottom)
Elevation of residential village commons (top) with perspective of residential village, Phase 1 Housing (bottom)

Academic/Residential Village
Just to the north, between West 28th and 30th streets, an academic/residential village, planned for the final phase of development, provides suites and apartment-style housing for 448 undergraduates in three 4-story buildings and 118,800 gross square feet of academic space in two separate 3-story buildings. Fronting onto Fair Park Boulevard, the village is linked to the academic core via new Coleman Creek bridges and the 28th Street bridge, and to the adjacent undergraduate and upper division/graduate student housing by landscaped walkways.

Graduate/Upper-Division Housing
Extending north between West 28th to 24th streets, 18 2-story townhouses provide 150 units of housing for graduate and upper-division students. Designed within the existing street block pattern, the buildings are envisioned to be as much a part of the revitalized Oak Forest neighborhood as part of the campus.

Faculty, Staff, Visiting Faculty, and Family Student Housing
Planned for the second phase of development, 70 units of faculty, staff, and family student housing are located on the former Methodist Children’s Home property. Arranged in a radial pattern, the 2-story townhouses conform to the topography, taking advantage of the slope to locate parking beneath the buildings. Common facilities for residents are located at the corner of West 19th and Fillmore streets.

Special Housing
The plan identifies a site for future expansion of housing and associated student life functions on Fair Park Boulevard between the physical plant and auxiliary services in order to maintain a continuous building edge along the street. This area would accommodate an additional 448 beds in four 4-story buildings.

Aerial perspective of east campus residential areas
Aerial perspective of east campus residential areas

Auxiliary Services / Student Commons

A linear, 4-story, multi-use building—housing the main student commons, student services, and ground-floor retail, with office and residential space above—wraps the southwest corner of Fair Park Boulevard and 32nd Street, announcing the east entry to campus. The building’s gesture toward both the campus and Fair Park Boulevard suggests its dual role as a campus-neighborhood center, while also helping to screen the existing and new parking decks from Fair Park Boulevard and the West 32nd Street entrance. The building’s curved form creates an urban plaza at the corner of the street for outdoor café tables and gathering. A campus shuttle drop-off located on the south side of the building together with structured and surface parking create a “transportation hub.”

A second auxiliary services building is located on Asher Avenue at the intersection with Fair Park Boulevard. This 4-story mixed-use building anchors the southeast corner of campus and frames Coleman Creek Greenway where it meets Asher Avenue. It also contributes to a continuous building edge along Fair Park Boulevard from West 32nd Street all the way to Asher Avenue.

Perspective sketch of the student commons
Perspective sketch of the student commons

Aerial perspective of east campus--housing and auxiliary service facilities
Aerial perspective of east campus–housing and auxiliary service facilities