Design Award Entries

Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences

The newly designed Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences is a post graduate research laboratory and office complex with a large multi-purpose meeting space for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. This facility, is the new flagship facility for the division, as well as the northernmost entry onto the University of Arkansas campus and Agricultural Center.

Project Statement

The newly designed agriculture sciences building is the new flagship facility for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. It is organized in two wings – a two-story research laboratory wing and an administrative/office and multi-purpose room wing. A glass link connects the two wings with a didactic “Hall of Fame” gallery that visitors to the administrative wing and patrons of the multi-purpose room pass by from the main entry circulation path that passes under the lab wing extending to the multi-purpose room and provides an opportunity to present the history of the agricultural research the facility is dedicated to. Splitting the program into office and laboratory wings allowed for mechanical systems to be more efficient for the vastly different needs of office vs. laboratory spaces. This also allowed for easier access control of the public administrative program function and the restricted scientific research.

The multi-purpose room is a large two-story space, surrounded by glass, which acts as a beacon and a main feature of the new facility. It is located proud of the rest of the facility and easily seen on approach. The site plan has a place for future greenhouses and the landscape design plan features water conservation by using the natural drainage of the site as a rain garden along the north façade and incorporates rainwater harvesting. Agricultural test crop sites can be seen from the building to the south, grounding the building in the physical intent of its use.

Research labs were kept flexible to allow for varied scientists, depending on changing research needs. All labs are daylit, with the lab wing and the administrative wing running east/west for easily controlled natural light, an important aspect to researchers dealing with agriculture and the natural elements. The scientist offices on the second floor share an open collaboration space for cross discipline interaction, all with a view to the large fields of test plots to the east.

The office wing houses two departments, one each on the ground and second floor. There are shared conference rooms that can be scheduled between the two departments and researchers as needed. The second floor conference rooms overlook the large multi-purpose meeting room and event space. The University has used this space for a multitude of events for the state agriculture outreach programs, community and university events. A shared break room on the ground floor provides a place for all three departments in the building to come together informally on a day-to-day basis.

The new agriculture sciences facility was designed to meet the University’s design requirements for LEED Silver. The building includes many energy efficient features in its MEP design, including exhaust air energy recovery units, high efficacy lighting, variable volume chilled water system, and a variable volume heating water system. The facility is equipped with an energy management system that allows for remote monitoring, problem diagnosis and corrections.

The exterior skin of the building draws from the vernacular of the agricultural buildings on the adjacent properties with horizontal ribbed panels, but presented in a more contemporary way with the form of the building being simplified to respond to the speed of the main thoroughfare to and from campus. Natural stone from the area grounds the building and provides a pedestrian scale and texture from the site through the main entry. The Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences opened in the Fall of 2017.

AIA Arkansas