In May, UALR announced plans for a new Visual Arts Building. With a target date to open in fall 2017, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s newest building will be among the finest higher education facilities in the country for visual arts education.
UALR unveiled the design concept for the 71,636 square-foot building during a news conference in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall. The visual arts building will be funded by a $20.3 million grant award approved by the Trustees of the Windgate Charitable Foundation, headquartered in Siloam Springs. The grant, designated for building construction and equipment, is the second largest gift in UALR’s history.
UALR serves about 1,000 students each year who are enrolled in visual arts classes. This semester, 180 students have designated visual arts as their major, and there are 16 full-time faculty devoted to visual arts programs.
The new facility, to be located on the UALR campus at 28th Street and East Campus Drive, will bring together under one roof the applied design program currently located at University Plaza and the art history and studio arts programs currently in the Fine Arts Building, a structure built in 1977 to house the departments of art and music.
The new building will integrate UALR’s Applied Design, Art History and Studio Arts classes into a facility that promotes collaboration and creativity between students, faculty and guests under one roof. Drawing/Painting/Printmaking/Art History and 2D Design and Illustration classrooms will be located on the north side of the building to make use of the large expanse of glass along 28th Street.
Faculty and administrative offices will be oriented on the south side to take advantage of the campus and natural plaza views. Photography and Graphic Design spaces will complete the programs that are housed within the visual arts track.
Students and visitors have the opportunity to experience two generous art galleries within the building showcasing both permanent and transitional exhibits or attend a guest lecturer speaking in the 80-seat lecture hall and reception venue on the ground floor.
The Applied Design spaces will be organized within a single story industrial high bay section of the building to take advantage of the expansive volumes of space necessary for Sculpture/Metalsmithing/Furniture Design /3D Craft & Fibers/Ceramics. Each of these spaces has access to an outdoor studio space that allows work on large pieces with natural ventilation and sunlight.
The building will be designed to achieve a LEED Silver rating with the USGBC LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art/Applied Design track, a unique program in Arkansas, primarily serves students interested in the study of traditional arts and crafts representative of the South Central region of the U.S., with particular emphasis upon craft practices within Arkansas.
“The vision of the Department of Art is to be a destination center for students intent on pursuing lifelong careers in the visual arts,” said department chair Tom Clifton. “This new facility will enable the department to embrace traditional, contemporary, and technological approaches to the visual arts in central Arkansas and provide opportunities for students throughout the southern region of the United States.
The Windgate Charitable Foundation has provided consistent and visionary support of the UALR Department of Art through scholarships, program support, visiting artists, workshops and gallery exhibitions.