Adohi Hall is a live-learn community for 700 students at the University of Arkansas, and the nation’s first large-scale mass timber building. Created by a design collective led by Leers Weinzapfel Associates (Boston, MA) in collaboration with Modus Studio (Fayetteville, AR), Mackey Mitchell Architects (St. Louis MO), and Olin Partnership (Philadelphia PA), this initiative is groundbreaking for the University and the State at large. A bold demonstration of sustainability, it also signifies potential economic development for Arkansas’ burgeoning timber industry. The complex demonstrates a pioneering use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and an innovative approach to live-learn communities, with embedded arts and academic spaces fostering student collaboration and interactive learning.
While the historic core of the University of Arkansas campus is located atop Fayetteville’s McIlroy Hill, the site for the new residence hall is remote from the center at the foot of the hill in the Athletic Valley. Located at the southern end of campus, the four- acre site slopes from north to south and frames a new gateway to the campus. Adohi Hall meets the challenge of creating a destination for a large new student community removed from the center of the campus. Conceived as a “cabin in the woods,” it is a serpentine band of rooms framed in CLT clad in a light metal jacket of zinc-toned siding floating above landscaped courtyards evoking the ecology of Northwest Arkansas. A continuous path descends the length of the site, passing under the student rooms through a natural landscape of trees, lawns, terraces, and sitting steps.
Art- focused spaces on the ground level provide opportunities for student creativity. A stepped performance space, sound studios, practice rooms, and a dance studio flow into workshops for digital fabrication, and woodworking. Social life is concentrated in the Cabin with its large gathering space framed in timber trusses. Wood tables are made on campus from CLT packing crates
An emphasis on access to nature resonates throughout the project. The landscape and buildings are woven together as an extension of the forested hillside to create unique outdoor spaces with strong relationships to the spaces within. A stand of existing mature trees is the centerpiece of the northernmost courtyard; at mid-slope, a lively terrace marks the heart of the community; and in the lower courtyard, sitting steps follow the building down the hill to a sheltered lawn. Along the passage, common spaces are closely linked to the landscape. The “front porch” in the northernmost building functions is the key point of entry for the entire complex; the “cabin” at the midpoint of the passage is the main gathering space, comprising a community kitchen, lounges, a quiet hearth, and a rooftop terrace; and the “workshops” of the lower courtyard house a dynamic live/learn program of performance spaces, music and recording studios, and maker spaces that enhance the campus wide program for the arts.
The warmth of the project’s exposed structural wood ceilings is apparent in each student room, the study rooms, floor lounges, and ground floor common spaces, and wood columns bring the beauty of the material within reach for all. The “cabin” also includes a wood ceiling and trusses that span the full width of the lounge spaces. Native cypress forms exterior soffits, entryways, and interior walls. The name of the new complex – “Adohi,” Cherokee for “woods” – recognizes the enduring importance of wood and sustainable forestry to the region.
Leers Weinzapfel Associates is a practice recognized for its exceptional quality of design for the public realm in urban and campus contexts. The group’s special strength is a “mission impossible” ability to meet extraordinarily difficult building challenges with uncommon design clarity, elegance, and refinement. We are committed to providing meaningful spaces for human interaction and to promoting social well-being. Our work is diverse, including technically demanding infrastructure installations, advanced learning and living environments for educational institutions, to civic buildings and community recreation centers. In 2007, the American Institute of Architects honored us with the Firm Award, the highest distinction the AIA bestows on an architecture practice, the first and only woman-owned firm to be so honored. ARCHITECT Magazine has included the firm on its list of Top 50 architecture firms in the country, for the past five years in a row.