Fay Jones School's Summer Design Camp Expands Fayetteville Camp, Adds New Locations

Scott Biehle, an instructor with Design Camp, talks with students during a field trip to Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel in Bella Vista, which was designed by Fay Jones.
Shawnya Meyers

Scott Biehle, an instructor with Design Camp, talks with students during a field trip to Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel in Bella Vista, which was designed by Fay Jones.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Each summer, the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design hosts weeklong Design Camps in several cities across the state to engage youth in the design professions.

This year, the school added two new camp locations in El Dorado and Bentonville to go along with the camps already being held in Fayetteville, Little Rock, Hot Springs and Wilson. It also expanded the Fayetteville camp into two sessions, with one taking place in June and the other in July.

The new camps allowed for even more campers to experience Design Camp. This year, 214 students attended one of the seven camps — compared to the 145 students attending the four camps held in summer 2018.

"We had our largest number of students ever for Design Camp, and we had a lot of really talented young designers at the camp this year," said Alison Turner, teaching assistant professor of architecture and Design Camp director.

The majority of the students attended the two Fayetteville camps on the University of Arkansas campus, with 129 total students this year compared to about 100 students in 2018.

"By adding a second week in Fayetteville this year, it gave us the chance to market the camp at a regional level, which helps us find those students who may not only be interested in design, but also in learning more about the University of Arkansas," Turner said. "At the Fayetteville camps, we devote some of the time to learning about the campus as well as about design and the Fay Jones School."

About two-thirds of the Fayetteville campers stay overnight in campus residence halls, and all the students eat in the dining halls a few times throughout the week. During the camp, the students also get to explore the campus, visiting the Fay Jones Collection in Mullins Library and the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education in the Arkansas Union.

The summer Design Camps offer students a chance to learn about architecture and design and to explore what those look like as potential future careers. Each session incorporates the three disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design and offers projects that include all three design areas.

Turner and other Fay Jones School faculty members led Design Camp sessions with the help of teaching assistants who are current students in the Fay Jones School. Faculty members from all three departments collaborated to develop the curriculum and student projects.

In addition to learning the basic design principles, many of the camps incorporated their specific surroundings in the lessons. Students in the Hot Springs camp got a more comprehensive grasp of landscape architecture concepts because the camp was set in Garvan Woodland Gardens, the botanical garden of the University of Arkansas, which is also part of the Fay Jones School. The Little Rock camp provided an opportunity to contemplate urban design and the issues that come with being in a city, with students working from a space in the Arkansas Studies Institute in downtown Little Rock.

The projects are often tailored to the particular camp surroundings as well. In the Fayetteville camps, students in the advanced Design II section designed a coffee shop and terrace for the space currently occupied by the Smith Exhibition Gallery in Vol Walker Hall. In Little Rock, students designed an urban intervention, reimagining a Clinton Avenue alley into an aesthetic and useful space for the community.

The El Dorado camp was held in the South Arkansas Arts Center, which, Turner said, was a great location in town. Several buildings are undergoing restoration work as part of the Murphy Arts District initiative, so the students encountered projects at different stages of historic preservation.

"There are many amazing things happening in El Dorado right now, too," Turner said. "We took the students to tour the Murphy Arts District, including some of the historic buildings that have recently been acquired, but not yet renovated, so the students also got to see some of the history of the town."

Turner said it's important for the Fay Jones School to have a presence in that region so that students better understand how design is changing their community, especially with all of the design initiatives going on now in El Dorado, between the arts district development and the timber industry.

"Design is something that is sometimes overlooked, particularly when someone is not familiar with how designers can have an impact in their community," Turner said. "Educating students about the power of design to shape lives for the better is an important message for Design Camp to get out."

The Bentonville camp was held at the Scott Family Amazeum. This camp offered students a unique, hands-on learning environment, especially since it targeted younger students than the other camps.

"Bentonville is our youngest camp — for ages 6-12 — and this provided a very new and different opportunity for us to reach out to an entirely different audience," Turner said.

Design Camp is a big part of the school's community outreach programs, which aim to provide general design education to young students and other community members in diverse areas across Arkansas. Turner also serves as the school's director of community education.

"By offering our satellite locations around the state, we are able to reach more students than we would if we only held the camp on campus in Fayetteville," Turner said. "This also allows us to connect the camp to each location, bringing in local practitioners and working with a local site that the students may already be familiar with, so this helps reinforce some of the goals of the design camp, helping the students appreciate how design has an impact on their daily life."

Regardless of the location, the Design Camp curriculum stays mostly the same. After learning about design principles, the students get to see how those concepts are applied to actual projects.

During the week, students spend a day going on field trips to visit nearby architecture and design projects, as well as to meet local practitioners, many of whom are school alumni. The students also apply the concepts they've learned to their own work, designing and building project models that they presented at the end of the week.  

For some students, Design Camp helps them decide on a career path. Turner said there are dozens of current Fay Jones School students who have attended Design Camp, including more than 10 first-year design students who are starting this fall semester.

Design Camp is supported by a grant from the U of A Women's Giving Circle.

For more information, contact Ansley Higinbothom at higinbot@uark.edu or 479-575-4907.


Shawnya Lee Meyers, digital media specialist
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4744, slmeyers@uark.edu

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu


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