Enhancing the total student-athlete experience is at the forefront of every athletic administrator’s mind. Recent legislation and the demand to pay closer attention to the student-athlete well-being is guiding a transformation in collegiate athletics facilities, requiring nutritional enhancements and heightened awareness for customized academic support. The University of Arkansas has expanded on its relationship with Heery Sports for a new, free-standing Student Success Center located in the University’s athletic precinct. The project houses academic, nutritional, personal and professional development components for more than 460 student-athletes. The Center also includes the Razorback Leadership Academy, supporting athletes in their community outreach and campus leadership roles. The projects main components include a dining hall and full-service kitchen, group study, quiet study, and tutoring rooms, computer labs, learning labs, 170-seat auditorium and staff and academic counselor offices.
The linear organization of the program on the site creates a green space buffer between the street and the scale of adjacent buildings, and makes visual navigation of the academic center very coherent. Layers of daylighting create the basis for the building’s organization and correspond to public spaces, department suites, and tutoring spaces. The academic center is inwardly focused while the dining component of the facility is outwardly focused, placed on the prominent public corner of the site with views to campus. The look and feel of the interior of the building is meant to be comfortable for student athletes. The variety of formal and informal teaching and study spaces are designed to be relaxed and hospitable.
The most rewarding part of the design process was understanding the main purpose of the project: to create an integrated academic support system that focuses on the graduation of student-athletes from the University of Arkansas. Key component of this project include:
"I know what a good building looks like, I built one down in Dallas. But now THIS - this is a beautiful building... gorgeous building."
- Jerry Jones, Owner, Dallas Cowboys and Supporter of University of Arkansas Athletics