University of Arkansas Campus Landscape Manual
Nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, in a town that bills itself as the region’s “gateway to the outdoors,” the campus of the University of Arkansas has a deep and visible connection with its landscape. Founded in 1871 as a land-grant institution, the University has grown to become one of the nation’s top public research universities, providing more than 210 academic programs to its 26,000 students.
Seeking a vision for campus grounds whereby future growth would go hand in hand with the enhancement of the beauty, cohesion, and intention of its landscape, the University initiated the development of a campus landscape design manual. Envisioned as a transformative document that would guide growth and open space organization in a way that reinforced campus identity, history, community and ecology, the manual also needed to serve as a toolkit that could be put into effect immediately by administrators, designers, contractors, and grounds personnel.
A planning team led by Olin worked with university staff to develop guiding principles and recommendations for a new campus landscape framework. This set context-specific districts that defined landscape character, maintenance zones, and spatial systems and provided the context for detailed landscape design guidelines for all future campus development.
As the ecological consultant, Biohabitats was primarily responsible for developing guidance for the natural campus landscape zones, as well as integrated water systems and green infrastructure. After reviewing existing campus planning documents, Biohabitats conducted field investigations and analyses of the campus’ topography, soil health, tree canopy and existing vegetation, natural and built hydrological systems, species diversity, and grounds maintenance procedures. Biohabitats then developed landscape design guidelines to address the protection and enhancement of campus ecological systems, and improve ecosystem services such as habitat enhancement, rainwater harvesting, and stormwater management to support healthier waterways downstream of the campus.