About the author
Darinda Sharp serves as director of communications for the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
Faculty and staff in the Department of Art have been working with Fulbright College and the University of Arkansas for more than a year on a new Art and Design District, known as A+DD. They have recruited some of the top designers and architecture studios in the region to transform a former refrigerated warehouse into a cutting edge educational art facility that will include sculpture workshops, classroom space and graduate student studios.
The 3.8-acre satellite site, located on Hill Street in South Fayetteville, will include a 33,000 square foot building for the department, and its proximity to the Frisco Trail will give students more exposure in the community.
Architects with Modus Studio in Fayetteville and el dorado inc in Kansas City, Missouri, have designed a space with the department’s needs in mind. David Dowell, a principal architect with el dorado, and University of Arkansas alumnus Jason Wright, partner and fabricator for Modus, are assigned to the project, and Wright serves as the manager on site.
“The project is designed to bring the labor intensive art and design disciplines together under a single pre-fabricated metal roof,” according to Wright. “The building itself will act as a two-story gallery fit for near constant use, with day-lit corridors and critique spaces facilitated by a partially translucent façade.”
A+DD will be completed in two phases. Phase one will focus on workshop needs for the art department's sculpture program. Phase two will include graduate student studios and classroom space for the department's foundations classes—the core art studios for all art majors.
"This is going to be an amazing asset for the department and facilitate interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary curriculum," said Bethany Springer, vice chair and graduate director for the department and associate professor of sculpture. "The addition of a foundry, metal shop and advanced technologies lab combined with our wood shop under one roof will provide our graduate and undergraduate students with much needed space, equipment and technical processes to fabricate safely in an environment that will encourage camaraderie and community collaborations. This facility will enable the sculpture area to compete on a national level and will contribute significantly towards recruitment.”
The expansion into this satellite facility will give the department a new competitive edge. While it has been able to provide instruction in these techniques through the use of shared and multi-use spaces, this will be the first area dedicated to these artistic disciplines.
“In addition to being an asset to our students, the new space will give us greater visibility in the community,” said Jeannie Hulen, chair of the department. “We’re really excited about the potential for public art projects along the trail and working with the university and the city to encourage more studio visits and visiting artists.”
Modus and el dorado have each received acclaim for a commitment to sustainable buildings that complement their environments. El dorado was formally incorporated in 1996 and has won more than 150 awards. Started in 2008, Modus is a smaller firm founded on “the idea that the patterns, perceptions, senses and notions of daily life can inspire good design,” according to the company’s website. The studio’s body of work includes an air port terminal, a middle school and several apartment buildings, including the award-winning Eco Modern Flats in Fayetteville.
Work on A+DD is scheduled to begin in late 2014 or early 2015, with move-in expected in fall 2015. It will open for classes in spring 2016.