Arkansas Bear Claw

Fayetteville, Arkansas

This student focused multifamily project occupies a complex Ozark site adjacent to the University of Arkansas in Downtown Fayetteville. Extensive site topography defines the building characteristics in stepping massive forms and angular geometries that are the resultant of Center Street diagonally slicing the hillside, which creates an unusual trapezoidal block. These native characteristics drove the architectural concepts and delivered in built form a stark contrast to the most normative of all student-housing typologies: the Texas Donut. We argue that the Arkansas Bear Claw is a more adept model of dense multifamily living.

The donut is a simple typological form, easily understood, capable of delivering standard industry building widths, often-benign courtyards, and some daylight via a too-sugary skin. The bear claw, with its cinnamon goodness and proportionally correct sweet veil, is form-driven with natural pockets of space, allowing ample and varied daylighting experiences. The courtyards between building wings are extraverted engageable spaces capable of playing with topography, pedestrians, and drivers alike.

A layered palette of brick, naturally weathering cedar screens and siding, fiber cement board, and steel composes massive areas of dense five-story apartment construction containing 628 bedrooms and 228 units. The wings of the building are focused around preserved specimen trees and programmed community amenity spaces. The tenant clubhouse is counter-intuitively located mid-block, a glass box that provides a transparent threshold between the street and the pool courtyard. The origami roof form captures the entry and provides a roof deck that gives tenants the outdoor opportunity to straddle the public and private realm.

In lieu of an unforgiving massive donut wall along the street, the formal carving of the Arkansas Bear Claw presents a uniquely scaled street experience that is at once an inviting urban rhythm and articulated building form along the Fayetteville hillside.

Typology Multi-Family Residential | Student Housing
location Fayetteville, Arkansas
completed 2017
photography Timothy Hursley + modus studio