University of Arkansas officials, faculty and students yesterday broke ground on a $27.1 million renovation and expansion of Ozark Hall.
The 71-year-old building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, will be updated to create a fully accessible, energy-efficient home for the Graduate School and International Education, and the department of geosciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
“As part of the campus mall and the historic campus core, Ozark Hall is a significant part of the identity and character of our campus,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “By taking care of existing resources, we promote a culture of sustainability on campus, while preserving a cherished part of our history for future generations to use and enjoy.”
An approximately 21,000-square-foot addition to the south wing of the building will provide a consolidated, permanent home for the Honors College as well as a 275-seat auditorium. A landscaped courtyard has been designed to accommodate special events, rest and recreation.
Among the featured speakers at Tuesday’s ceremony was UA student Fuad “Kikko” Haydar, a kinesiology major and a walk-on member of Razorback men’s basketball team.
As a student of the Honors College, Haydar said he welcomes the idea of having a consolidated area instead of walking to three different buildings to meet with college staff.
“With Ozark Hall’s completion, we’ll all be able to see the people we need to see, in one place,” said Haydar.
Crafted from Indiana white limestone in a Collegiate Gothic style, Ozark Hall was built in two phases. The first phase, originally known as the Classroom Building, was completed in 1940 with funding provided by the Public Works Administration. An addition to the east in 1947 linked the Classroom Building to the Commerce Building on the south, creating a U-shaped structure that served as the business administration building for many years. The Commerce Building was later razed. Most recently, Ozark Hall has housed the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, the Graduate School and the department of geosciences.
Renovation is scheduled for completion in August 2013. The project was made possible through support from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation and a bond supported by the student facilities fee.