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UA Little Rock Breaks Ground on Transformational Campus Improvement Projects

The university formally broke ground on the Trojan Way and Library Plaza project during a groundbreaking ceremony one campus.
The university formally broke ground on the Trojan Way and Library Plaza project during a groundbreaking ceremony one campus.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock broke ground on a series of campus improvement and renovation projects that will significantly transform the face of the university for years to come during a Dec. 2 groundbreaking ceremony outside Ottenheimer Library.

The center points of the campus improvement projects include the construction of a new north to south promenade called Trojan Way and a new Library Plaza. A generous $5.5 million grant from the Donaghey Foundation will fund these projects. Trojan Way will run through campus from 28th Street to University Drive and will create enhanced walkways, seating areas, and gathering spaces.

In addition, the space outside Ottenheimer Library will be reimagined as a new outdoor campus learning environment with expanded seating and places for groups to gather. It will include a seat wall, a stage to hold events, and beautiful canopy trees for shade.

“The upcoming campus improvements will transform the UA Little Rock campus for many years to come,” said Chancellor Christina Drale. “By providing shaded spaces, gathering areas, and additional seating, we are creating an atmosphere that will help foster connections and provide enhanced living-learning experiences for the campus community.”

Those who participated in the groundbreaking included Chancellor Drale, Charles Nabholz, chairman emeritus of Nabholz, Dr. Dean Kumpuris, chair of the UA Little Rock Board of Visitors; Shawn Luther, principal and landscape architect of DCI; Jerry Ganz, vice chancellor for finance and administration at UA Little Rock; Leslie Hutchins, associate vice chancellor of facilities and management at UA Little Rock, David Sargent of WER Architects, and Thomas Forcum, president of the Student Government Association at UA Little Rock.

Construction began in October and will last from 12-18 months. The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees previously approved the Library Plaza and Trojan Way projects in May.

“I’m very excited about the Library Plaza and Trojan Way project beginning soon,” Ganz said. “Thanks to the generous support of the Donaghey Foundation, we were able to plan a project that will significantly enhance the beauty of our campus. I think the entire campus community will be very pleased with the end result and, especially, some of the key design elements that we have built into the project.”

WER Architects has been selected as the project architect, while Nabholz Construction has been selected as the contractor.

“The Trojan Way is a landmark investment that will improve the campus’ connectivity and accessibility for UA Little Rock students and community members for generations to come,” Nabholz said. “Nabholz is proud of our long relationship with UA Little Rock, which dates back to construction projects our company built on campus over 50 years ago. As a former student myself who attended night classes on campus in 1967/68, I know how much students will enjoy the additional paths, landscaping, and lighting.”

Charles Nabholz, chairman emeritus of Nabholz, speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Trojan Way project at UA Little Rock on Dec. 2. Photos by Ben Krain.
Charles Nabholz, chairman emeritus of Nabholz, speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Trojan Way project at UA Little Rock on Dec. 2. Photo by Ben Krain.

UA Little Rock officials decided to complete additional planned improvement projects at the same time since all the projects are so interconnected to creating a learning-living community to enhance student success. The additional projects include a new West campus entrance that will connect directly to the Library Plaza, the demolition of the former education building, and an Alumni Patio that will connect with Trojan Way on the north side of campus.

“I’m also looking forward to beginning work on the new entrance on the West side of campus along University Avenue, as well as, the Alumni Patio project, which is where we are moving the named bricks that are currently in the Library Plaza,” Ganz said. “The Alumni Patio project will connect three different patios with a winding brick walkway and will be a fantastic event space that will surely get lots of use by all kinds of groups around campus in the future.”

The campus improvements will also include a new patio and outdoor area on the north side of the Fine Arts Building, which will complement the new disc golf course that has recently been built on the south side of the Fine Arts Building to provide more campus recreational opportunities.

“We have a beautiful campus, and we have this unused space available,” said Provost Ann Bain. “This will be a real inviting space for our faculty, staff, and students to utilize. We want to bring a bit of vibrancy to this side of campus.”

Chancellor Christina Drale addresses the crowd during a Dec. 2 groundbreaking ceremony on how the Trojan Way projects will improve the living-learning environment on campus for generations to come. Photo by Ben Krain.

The total cost of the improvement projects is estimated at $9.7 million. The UA System Board of Trustees approved these campus improvement projects during its September meeting. The remaining projects will be funded by a combination of university reserves and private funding. The additional campus improvement projects include:

  • Campus Grove – The university is upgrading the north side of the Fine Arts Building to install an outdoor area for students, faculty, and staff. This shaded area will have additional seating and offer students a place to enjoy campus with friends.
  • Alumni Patio Project -The university is installing a new gathering space outside of the Bailey Alumni & Friends Center featuring the bricks that are currently located outside of Ottenheimer Library. The gathering space will allow alumni and friends easy access to view their bricks and allow the university to utilize the space as another campus gathering location.
  • Demolition of Education Building – The university has demolished the existing education building that is located between Dickinson Hall and Ross Hall. This building has not been in use for some time and will allow for the creation of additional campus green spaces.
  • Campus West Entrance – With the removal of the old Earth Science Building earlier this year, the university is enhancing the West entrance to campus at the intersection of University Avenue and 32nd Street with better walkways and a green space for students and faculty to enjoy.

“We at DCI are delighted to be a part of the design team for such a transformational project,” Luther said. “Just over a year ago, we were invited by WER Architects to join in an effort to take a look at a few small areas of campus. Little did we know that exercise would become a project which will literally shape the campus for decades.  It is our hope that this project will help energize the campus and open the doors to the local community.”

These projects are a part of UA Little Rock’s Centennial Campaign, the university’s largest fundraising effort in university history to raise $250 million ahead of its 100-year anniversary in 2027. Learn more about UA Little Rock’s efforts to provide great learning environments that encourage student success at the Centennial Campaign website.