Arkansas Bear Claw / modus studio

© Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley
  • Architects: modus studio
  • Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States
  • Lead Architects: Chris Baribeau, AIA (principal architect); Aaron Speaks, AIA (project manager); David McElyea; Graham Patterson, Assoc. AIA; Suzana Annable, AIA; Leanne Baribeau, AIA; Philip Rusk, Assoc. AIA; Cory Amos, AIA; Michael Pope, AIA
  • Area: 325233.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2017
  • Photographs: Timothy Hursley
  • Civil Engineer: McClelland Consulting Engineers
  • Structural Engineer: SCA Consulting Engineers
  • Mep Engineer: HP Engineering
  • Landscape Architect: Ecological Design Group
  • Contractor: Trinitas Construction
© Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley

Text description provided by the architects. 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.

© Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley
Axonometric Axonometric
© Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley

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.

Courtesy of modus studio Courtesy of modus studio

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.

© Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley
Sketch Sketch
© Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley

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.

© Timothy Hursley © Timothy Hursley