The stately, even staid, building and the exuberant design program may have been an unlikely pairing, but for more than 40 years Vol Walker Hall has served as home to what has become the Fay Jones School of Architecture. August 2013 marked a significant transition for the School of Architecture and Vol Walker Hall with the completion of both a renovation and the addition of the Steven L. Anderson Design Center. These changes allowed the architecture, landscape architecture and interior design departments to be housed under the same roof for the first time.
This digital exhibit explores the history of this prominent campus building and that of the architecture program that has occupied it since 1968. In 1935, Vol Walker Memorial Library opened, named after James Volney Walker, a prominent attorney and an 1877 graduate of the university. Built with Federal Public Works Administration funding, the imposing Classical Revival edifice has occupied a central location on the changing campus ever since. The grand marble staircases, the hushed reserve room and the imposing reading room served students as a focus of academic life for the University of Arkansas campus until the completion of the Mullins Library.
The culture of the School of Architecture has long been distinguished by direct student-teacher discourse, academic intensity and creativity. The Department of Architecture was founded in 1946, under the stewardship of John G. Williams. For most of the initial two decades, the department, and later the School of Architecture, was housed primarily in the Edward Durell Stone-designed Fine Arts Center, a decidedly modern and unpretentious building. Despite the undeniable architectural contrast of their new home, the School of Architecture faculty and students embraced the formidable Vol Walker Hall and made it their own, reinventing the spaces, extending the hours and, on occasion, sliding down the bronze bannister of the grand staircases.
Amy Allen and Catherine Wallack coordinated this project. Others involved in this project include Jonathan Browning, Keyleigh Hibbard, Megan Massanelli, Tim Nutt, Janet Parsch and Janelle Pacheco.
This project is the result of the generosity of many individuals. Special thanks to the Fay Jones School of Architecture, Christine Hilker and Michelle Parks, in particular. Thanks are also extended to Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects for the donation of renovation and demolition images.