It's difficult to drive through the intersection of Harkrider and Siebenmorgen these days and keep your eyes on the road.
Almost daily, passersby can view progress on the new $22.5 million complex for the Hendrix Wellness and Athletics Center and athletics fields.
Weather permitting, the soccer field and the 400-meter track and field will be complete by April 2006, and the Wellness and Athletics Center will be open for fall 2007
semester. In January, the Hendrix Board of Trustees named Nabholz Construction of Conway general contractor for the 100,000-square-foot Wellness and Athletics Center. The new center, located on the north corner of Harkrider and Siebenmorgen streets across from the Hendrix campus, will anchor the college’s expansion on the east side of Harkrider.
Work is already under way for the center. The ground has been prepared for the structure, and reinforcement bars and other support structures are now being built.
The Wellness and Athletics Center will include a competition gymnasium for basketball and volleyball, a kinesiology lab and classrooms, a recreational gymnasium with two full courts for intramural programs, an aquatic center for competitive and recreational swimming and diving, a fitness center, an exercise studio, a rock-climbing wall, locker rooms and staff offices.
The center and the athletic fields will span the length of Siebenmorgen from Harkrider almost to I-40. Kirchner Architecture of Little Rock is project architect, and SportsPLAN Studio of Kansas City, Mo., is facility designer.
Hendrix Board of Trustees Chair R. Madison Murphy said the center is an investment in the future for the college. “Hendrix has already claimed a national leadership position in higher education, and the new Wellness and Athletics Center marks a further commitment by the college to enhancing the value of academics and campus life for our students.”
The center is among several new initiatives of the college designed to encourage active, engaged learning for students. Hendrix is currently in a $70 million capital campaign to raise funding for the Wellness and Athletics Center, a new student center and increased endowment and scholarships for the new Odyssey Program.
The Wellness and Athletics Center will replace Grove Gymnasium built in 1961 when student enrollment was about half of what it is today. The center will serve the needs of all students, faculty and staff and provide programs that will benefit the community.
The Wellness and Athletics Center will anchor the new development known as The Village at Hendrix.
Tom Courtway of Conway, vice president of planning and operations for Hendrix, is managing the development of the property, which is expected to be phased in over the next several years.
“Since joining Hendrix in December, I’ve found the planning progress to be very fast-paced,” said Courtway. “The Village at Hendrix is one of the most exciting and interesting projects in the history of Conway, and that’s why I decided to take the job.” In addition to the wellness center complex, preliminary plans for the Village call for a new urban development that includes a town center with retail venues such as a theater, coffee shop and bookstore, and a mixture of housing such as single-family homes, loft apartments and townhouses.
The college recently received a $20,000 planning grant from the Walton Family Foundation to assess the need for a charter school to be built in the new Village. For the next 12 months, James Jennings, chair of the Hendrix Education Department, will use the funds to research the concept of a new charter school for grades pre-kindergarten through eighth. If the research indicates a need for the school, the college will submit a proposal to the state Board of Education for charter school application.
The ideas for the school and other plans for the new Village originated from a series of master planning charrettes conducted on campus in January 2005 by the internationally recognized urban planning group, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company. Participants in the planning sessions were Conway residents, city officials and Hendrix alumni, staff, students, faculty and board members.