The School's History

Within the curricular context of an excellent professional design education, we provide a vital school-wide design culture and educational environment grounded in critical design thinking, multidisciplinary collaborations and civic engagement.

Department of Architecture

More than 70 years ago, the first classes in architecture were offered at the University of Arkansas in response to the post-World War II building boom. Today, the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design enjoys a national reputation for producing outstanding designers who are well prepared for professional practice. We emphasize drawing as a tool for seeing, and many of our students excel in hand rendering, something of a lost art in the age of digital design.

Department of Landscape Architecture

Established in 1976, the landscape architecture program focuses on design and site planning, balancing the art and science of designing on the land. Today, our students enjoy a strong placement rate in prestigious firms across the United States. We emphasize urban design, wetland reclamation, and the design of public memorials, parks and gardens. Because we learn from and build upon the past, history and landscape preservation are important components of the program. Read more details on this Landscape Architecture Fact Sheet.

Department of Interior Design

The Interior Design program at the University of Arkansas originated in 1978 in the Department of Home Economics. After several changes, the degree became the Bachelor of Interior Design (B.I.D.) in 1999-2000, and the program joined the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design in July 2010. The curriculum emphasizes design as a creative, problem-solving skill. Students learn to create environments that meet diverse human needs and desires. Our interior design student achievement data is available here.

Third- and fourth-year interior design students recently designed and produced a website as a requirement for their Professional Practice for Interior Design course, as a portion of the marketing and public relations learning module. A link to the website has been sent to principals and design directors at 300 top interior design/architecture firms. Professor Carl Matthews, Interior Design Department Head, was the instructor for the course.

Fay Jones

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Fay Jones at work in his office. Photo courtesy Ernie Jacks 
Collection, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries.

Internationally renowned architect Fay Jones (1921-2004) chose to build his career in his native Arkansas, far from design centers on the east and west coasts. Inspired by the wooded hills of the Ozarks, he created a unique style that stands apart from architectural trends.

Fay Jones is celebrated for designing soaring sacred spaces and modern homes warmed by native materials. He received numerous awards, culminating in 1990 with the highest honor an American architect can receive, the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. The AIA later honored Jones as one of the country’s “10 most influential living architects" and ranked his masterwork, Thorncrown Chapel, as the fourth best building by an American architect in the 20th century.

A member of the University of Arkansas’ first graduating class of architecture students, Jones taught for 35 years and served as the School of Architecture’s first dean. Jones’ passion for architecture inspired generations of students; his international reputation also drew outstanding practitioners to lecture and teach on campus, helping to establish the school’s national reputation for excellence.

In 1999, Don and Ellen Edmondson, former clients of Jones, created an endowment that supports the Fay Jones Chair in Architecture. Thanks to a subsequent generous gift from the Edmondsons, the school became the Fay Jones School of Architecture in 2009. The name was then expanded in 2015 to the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

Want to learn more about Fay? Check out the Fay Jones Collection in Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries.

Want to learn more about Mid-Century Modern Architecture within the metropolitan statistical area (or 50 miles from campus)? Faculty from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design have identified and mapped residential, religious, institutional and commercial examples of such architecture designed and built between 1946 and 1976.

Vol Walker Hall

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Vol Walker Hall

The marble columns and 15- to 25-foot-high ceilings of Vol Walker Hall make a grand backdrop for the sketches and models that architecture and landscape architecture students display there year round. Completed in 1935 as the University library, the graceful Classical Revival building has been home to the School of Architecture since 1968. The library's light-filled communal spaces have been transformed into studios: the former reading room, for example, houses second-, third-, and fourth-year architecture students, encouraging communication among them.

Vol Walker Hall is located in the heart of the UA campus, adjacent to Old Main and the Mullins Library, and close to the Fine Arts Library and the Student Union. The Fulbright Peace Fountain, designed by alumni Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings in 1998, graces the entrance. Jones viewed the 41-foot tall fountain, one of his last projects, as the “exclamation point" of his career.

Steven L. Anderson Design Center

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Steven L. Anderson Design Center addition

The renovated Vol Walker Hall and the new addition, the Steven L. Anderson Design Center, were rededicated and dedicated, respectively, on Sept. 12. In 2010, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation donated $10 million to name the addition to Vol Walker Hall the Steven L. Anderson Design Center, honoring Anderson, foundation president and a 1976 graduate of the Fay Jones School’s architecture program. The U of A also contributed $19.8 million toward the project, an example of how the campus facilities fee is being used to help pay for deferred maintenance and renovation for specific capital improvements.

The 34,320-square-foot design center addition is made from limestone panels, steel, architectural concrete, Arkansas white oak and glass. Added to the 56,635 square feet in Vol Walker Hall, the total space in the building is now 90,955 square feet. According to current estimates, the project cost was a little more than $36.6 million. About 54 percent of that total went toward the renovation of Vol Walker Hall, with about 46 percent going toward the addition.

This state-of-the-art facility – which includes several design studios, a computer lab, a design shop, a 200-seat lecture hall, a securable exhibition gallery, student and faculty lounge areas, and a green roof – will help enhance and expand the already top-notch education provided by the school’s faculty and administration.

Explore our Architecture in the Making blog, which chronicled the design and construction project.