Recreation and Athletics, Circulation and Parking, & Infrastructure
Recreation and athletic fields are located south of Asher Avenue opposite the main entrance and include track and field facilities, a soccer field, two multiuse fields, a softball field, and a jogging track. Six new tennis courts are located on the west side of the athletics wing of the Donaghey Student Center, replacing the existing six courts that are removed to create open space and allow for a future building site. Non-programmed recreation space will be developed as part of Coleman Creek Greenway, and the new University Green is sized to accommodate soccer, football, etc.
Since these new facilities will not be sufficient to accommodate the build-out population of +/- 20,000 students, however, UALR will need to look for additional areas adjacent or close to the campus, or enter into partnerships with the City’s Park Department or other entities with which it can share resources.
Circulation and Parking
The plan removes most surface parking, except for accessible spaces, from the core of campus, freeing valuable land for new buildings and open space. By eliminating through-traffic in the north-south direction and adding six new parking structures in perimeter locations, the plan claims the core of campus for pedestrians first.
Circulation within the core is primarily pedestrian. The master plan creates a network of interconnected walkways, sidewalks, pathways, and trails that provide access throughout the campus. Planting, lighting, paving, and other elements help “code” the hierarchy of pathways to assist with wayfinding.
College Walk is the primary north-south circulation route, crossed by secondary east-west paths that connect the core to the residential villages and auxiliary services east of Coleman Creek via seven pedestrian bridges. College Walk is designed as a gracious pedestrian main street, using consistent UALR pavement, furniture, fixtures (lights with banners), kiosks, etc. The design allows for emergency vehicle access and incorporates pedestrian traffic-calming measures to prevent use of the walk as a bike and skateboard freeway.
Coleman Creek Greenway
Separate pedestrian and bicycle paths along Coleman Creek connect to the regional trail system, linking the campus with War Memorial Park and the Fourche Creek Wetlands. A pedestrian/bicycle underpass is located at Asher Avenue.
West 32nd Street
West 32nd Street is extended as a major pedestrian walkway through the historic core, connecting the campus to the commercial district west of University Avenue via the University Avenue pedestrian gate.
Vehicular Circulation and Parking
The plan creates five main entrances to the campus. From the south, a gently sloping lawn on Asher Avenue allows for a gracious entry and drop-off at the southern end of College Walk. Further east, Coleman Creek Drive provides access from Asher Avenue along the Coleman Creek Greenway to the south campus core. From the north, access is provided via University Avenue and Fair Park Boulevard to West 28th Street, where a realigned Campus Drive leads into the heart of campus, terminating at University Green. West 28th Street, Campus Drive, and Coleman Creek Drive are redesigned as boulevards with landscaped medians and street trees.
The eastern entrance at Fair Park Boulevard is flanked by the undergraduate housing village and auxiliary services buildings, with West 32nd Street also terminating at the University Green. The existing University Avenue entrance is reconfigured as the ceremonial entry to campus, offering a dramatic view to Coleman Creek Greenway.
Primary Vehicular Circulation
Vehicular circulation is designed to provide convenient access to parking and drop-off, while giving precedence to the pedestrian in the core. Of the four streets that compose the primary internal vehicular circulation system—West 28th Street, West 32nd Street, Campus Drive, and Coleman Creek Drive— only West 28th Street, as currently shown, provides through-circulation. Campus Drive terminates at the new University Green, as does West 32nd Street. Coleman Creek Drive terminates at a smaller commons and drop-off providing access from Asher Avenue to the campus and southeast parking garage.
Although the master plan calls for West 28th Street to be redesigned as a boulevard, the University and City will need to examine traffic volume to determine the best solution for West 28th Street once the Stephens Center is open. Other options include closing the street, dead-ending the street at the existing vehicular bridge from each direction, dead-ending the street in each direction and replacing the vehicular bridge with a pedestrian bridge, etc. The final design for West 28th Street must consider the safety and efficiency of the entire campus circulation system.
University Avenue and Other City Street Improvements
Beginning with University Avenue, all major city streets within the University District serving the campus—including, Asher Avenue, West 28th Street, and Fair Park Boulevard—are to be redesigned according to the UALR Pedestrian Safety Committee recommendations, including streetscape improvements that incorporate UALR/University District design standards for street trees, pedestrian and roadway lighting, pedestrian crossings, medians, and sidewalks.
The plan extends 20th Street from Fillmore Street through to University Avenue and establishes it as the northern edge of campus. University property is used to widen the right-of-way to create a gracious street befitting the University. The extension of 20th Street will take traffic pressure off the neighborhood, eliminating a potentially divisive town/gown issue.
The plan consolidates surface parking into six new structures located outside the core and one close-in structure on the east side of the library expansion. Liner buildings with ground-floor office/retail are planned for the two parking structures facing University and Asher avenues at the southern end of campus and for the residential/academic village parking garage, screening it from Coleman Creek Greenway.
The plan removes 3,036 of the approximately 4,111 existing parking spaces and adds 5,315 spaces in structured parking, for a total of 6,400 spaces—a net gain of 2,289. Although this approximate 55 percent parking increase is substantial, it would not meet long-term university needs when enrollment of 20,000 students is realized by the year 2014. However, the urban design plan demonstrates that the campus cannot accommodate additional surface or structured parking without encroaching on open space that will compromise its character. As a result, the master plan recommends that the University explore alternative solutions, such as the development of off-campus satellite parking opportunities and a more comprehensive transit system that integrates a UALR campus shuttle with the regional system. The former would require new land acquisitions and the latter a partnership with local municipalities. Another option is implementing a transportation demand management program (TMD) that offers incentives to drivers of single-occupant vehicles to carpool, vanpool, walk, bike, or use public transit.
The utilities of power, natural gas, chilled water, steam, and heating water will be developed to meet the demands of the existing and the future campus facilities. As the campus grows, the utilities will expand from existing meter locations, existing chilled water plants, a new distributed generation/chilled water plant, and other new utility plants in different quadrants of campus. Utility corridors will be taken into consideration as new buildings are constructed. The following modifications and improvements are recommended:
- Service from the west in the south quadrant.
- Service from the north in the northeast quadrant.
- Distributed generation of power to serve the campus.
- Place power service underground.
- Continue a practice of combining gas meters through master metering.
- Implement at district cooling strategy.
- Utilize existing chilled water plants.
- Add plants in quadrants as new buildings are built.
- Connect quadrants to capture the efficiency of diversity.
- Eliminate inefficient equipment as chiller plant capacity increases for new buildings.
- Implement high-efficiency heating water boilers in buildings.
- Phase out the steam system.
UALR William H. Bowen School of Law
The UALR William H. Bowen School of Law gives UALR an important presence in downtown Little Rock. Located within walking distance of the Clinton Presidential Center and a 5-minute drive of most of Arkansas’s largest law firms and corporations, the State Capitol, and the state and federal courts, the School of Law is positioned to serve as the nucleus of an extended “legal campus.” The existing facility is adjacent to historic MacArthur Park and directly accessible from I-30, putting the School of Law within easy reach of other attractions of downtown, including, museums, restaurants, and the River Market District.
As the first step in creating a campus, a new building is planned just north of the existing facility that will contain in- and outdoor student gathering areas and large spaces for community events and catered receptions for up to 160 people. There also is an opportunity to remodel existing storage areas on the 6th floor of the existing building to contain student support and auxiliary functions.
Just north of the School of Law property, in the block where private housing is being developed for students, there is potential for additional housing for students, faculty, and visiting faculty, as well as for visiting faculty at the Clinton Presidential Center. The addition of university-related housing and ground-floor retail would help to create a 24-hour community around the School of Law. In the long term, structured parking should be considered to free land now occupied by surface parking for academic and residential expansion.