What is the architectural theme at the U of A?

I have a friend who is always bringing this up, and he has a valid point. The classroom buildings, the dorms, the athletic facilities and the other buildings do not have a similar design theme. I went to school here in the 60’s and early 70’s and the older buildings were a grey stone finish( the old business school building, the old library and the old Student Union). Ole Main is red brick, of course. Several buildings have been built the past 50 years, but no constant architectural theme is evident to me.

Ole Miss has traditional Greek Revival in red brick. LSU has the red tile roof Mediterranean style buildings.

We seem to have whatever the architect dreams up…Is there not a Master Plan so that the buildings look similar. I am not an architect, but I am proud of my school, but I don’t see similarities to the construction.

Does anybody know?

I don’t think there is a central theme, and at this point it’s too late for one (I started out as an architecture major at UA so I do look at these things). A lot of recent construction has featured whitewashed concrete (RRS facades, Bell Engineering, the library, Bev Lewis Center, the business school, Arkansas Union). Smith Center and Jones Center are both red brick with a lot of glass. BWA is red brick. There was a period of modernist buildings on campus like Fine Arts, Yocum and Humphries.

Nope, but I’m glad there isn’t one central theme, I think that looks terrible. They’ve had a few good architects go through up there, I bet they had a clue what they were doing. I live in Jonesboro, it seems ASU used the same ugly yellow brick for everything, reminds me of the old BAC, lol.

I don’t see any theme in the academic buildings. Most of the athletic facilities have a red-bricked theme.

I’ve never thought much of it, but my best friend in college talked about it all the time. It drove him crazy how there was no uniformity to the looks of the buildings on top of the hill.

There really isn’t much by way of theme. Especially with the new construction like AFLS, Poultry Science, etc. You can see buildings that were built at similar times though, like the Ag building, and Home economics building that somewhat match up with Gearhart hall, and the other grey stone buildings you mention.

LSU’s campus is beautiful on the outside, but they have not done a great job of keeping up to date inside. I toured a lot of their campus last spring and what I saw was well behind other schools I’ve seen in terms of technology and renovation.

Mizzou has a very nice campus if you ever get the chance to see it. We’re split into the “Red” campus and the “White” campus. The red being the west half of campus made of brick, which matches the original buildings, and the white being the east side of campus built from white limestone in the very early 1900’s. New buildings built here still match what is around them for the most part, being either red brick or white limestone/white washed concrete.

You tend to see “themed” campuses where there was a lot of money generating a lot of buildings around the same time. Stanford is a good example. The prettiest campus I ever visited was Cornell in upstate New York. They have a lot of traditional architecture built in the late 1800’s when that area was booming, but their new buildings are modern and very well done too. Notre Dame requires all of their buildings to fit a Neo-Classic style. Obviously, the UofA never dictated one style for all buildings and I am not sure that is a bad thing. We Americans inherited an empty continent from all those millions of Indians who died from our viruses just a few hundred years ago. Then we started building stuff over here. Our “traditional” architectural styles are Neo-This and Neo-That, mostly just borrowing some details from something done in Greece, Rome, Paris, or London a long time ago and slapping them onto our, then, new buildings. Then, a hundred years later, some think those styles are “classic” and wonder why they just didn’t stop there and repeat. I love buildings, neighborhoods, cities, and campuses that tell the story of the people who had been there. People and countries grow and evolve and I think their buildings and college campuses should reflect that. Too much control can get like DisneyWorld which has a consistent theme and is very artificial.

One story that I would like to hear told is why the two towers at Old Main are different? They are like belly buttons, one is an “innie” and the other is an “outie” in the shape of their roofs. Everything else about that building is “matchie-matchie” except that.

Just one architect’s opinion.


I have raised this issue before. It would be nice if our campus had an established theme with beautiful exteriors. I am astonished how boring so many of the athletic and educational buildings look. But I still love our UA.


I hate it when stuff looks the same. OKlahoma State’s buildings are identical. Texas Tech, too. They look terrible.

I detest sub divisions with matching theme. I’d go into wrong house and get shot. Those look terrible.

I do not like houses with all the rooms one color.

I think UA campus is cool. I really don’t give a hoot if one thing looks like the next. It’s 100-year old stuff. It can be modern, Greek or Star Trek. Let architects - and we’ve produced some greats - have some fun.

A little on Ole Main (University Hall - had a class in UH. It took a day for me to figure out what that was). I have heard the architect was a “yankee”. That was as low as you could get in the south in the 1870s. If you look, the N. Tower is taller and more ornate than the south. It is a copy of a similar building at IL or IA or both. I do get around a lot of the campuses, especially Land Grant, in the mid-west and I have seen several similar buildings.

The old core set of buildings, original Ag & Home Ec, Chemistry, Business, Old Library, Old Union have a very similar theme. I guess those were 20s-30s era and seemed to form a nice, square campus. After that, the building boom seemed to start in the early 60s and really has not stopped since. It seems each one of those buildings are different. The 60s dorms were similar until Reid broke the trend.

It is sort of interesting to walk around and follow the trends. I was just on Campus last month for the first time in a couple of years (football and basketball teams certainly offered no reason to come and Baseball is away somewhat). I was really impressed with what I saw. It really is nice (except for the broken N in one of the Daniel names on Sr. Walk).

I had heard that about why the North tower is taller. I just looked and its even listed as a possible reason on the UARK website.

Here’s the University’s page on Old Main:

<LINK_TEXT text=“https://fulbright.uark.edu/deans-office … d-main.php”>https://fulbright.uark.edu/deans-office/facilities/old-main.php</LINK_TEXT>


UA has quite an architecture school tradition. I’m not surprised that we have an odd selection of styles represented. What is amazing to me is that there is not a healthy presence of Fay Jones-inspired buildings (or another UA architect). A few but not many.

I had a good chuckle at the reference to Yocum and Holcombe being “modernist.” I’m not sure how many residents would ever describe them as “modern” (which is different, of course, than modernist).

As mentioned, too many schools have every building look the same, where the campus becomes a glorified apartment complex. As Clay mentioned, it is like a weakly-designed neighborhood with tons of houses slapped together that look exactly the same.

Give me something iconic, something unique.

I say fire all the architects past and present.

When they were built they were modern as well as modernist. Of course that was 56 years ago.

Is that a cross between elective and eclectic? :blush:

Actually, Hotz Hall (is it still called that) was built first, and Reid was a copy of Hotz. Hotz was new my freshman year, 1964.

Anybody ever go through the tunnels from one building to the next? I did that in 1973 and did not get caught. Really cool the way they are connected to the physical plant.

lol, that brings back memories, the tunnels. I’ve been through some of them long long ago, but not to go to class. in fact campus security late at night searching for a group of us, we got away. young and daring at the time, and not that smart. but its been done.

I think auto correct got me!