The University of Central Arkansas in Conway had a problem. For over a decade, their renowned college of nursing and health sciences was running out of space. With the programs at capacity, increasing student demand could not be accommodated, and growth was constrained. After years of discussion, it was time for Taggart Architects to turn their blueprints into reality and build a new facility. Dr. Nancy Reese is the Dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. “Our leadership team gathered the chairs of all the departments to reach a consensus of who needed to be represented in the new building. It was a beautiful joint effort.” What began primarily as a nursing school soon morphed into a unique interdisciplinary space for classrooms, labs, training, clinical space and offices for nursing, physical therapy, communication disorders, behavioral sciences, and community outreach.

Kevin Carter is the current Associate VP of Facilities for UCA and worked closely with ImageWorks on planning, managing and executing the interiors of the four-story building. “I have a lot of confidence in ImageWorks. They offer great product lines, like Steelcase with strong warranties. Communication between us was excellent throughout the project.” The project was at high pitch when the Covid pandemic hit. “ImageWorks was proactive in alerting us of any order entry deadlines to avoid being caught in the supply chain issues that were brewing. There were 16 semi-trucks at our door on time during construction. The delivery, installation and clean-up were seamless. It was impressive.” Meredith, who was onsite for each truck’s arrival credits contractor, Nabholz with solving a logistics puzzle in literally “paving the way” for the semis by creating a sidewalk so product could be unloaded. “We were in the middle of construction at an active campus with no extra parking. They were fabulous.”

There is a public clinic onsite that serves the community allowing students to earn their clinical hours. A community classroom and kitchen space are used for educational demonstrations as part of a coop extension. According to Dr. Reese, the positive impact on healthcare in the community cannot be overestimated. She cites a program developed by nursing faculty targeting dementia patients and their caregivers. “It began with the intention of giving those caring for dementia patients a much-needed break. Patients can be brought to our facilities and our students care for them for a few hours. It turns out it was a trifecta. Those with dementia get increased socialization, caregivers have time off and our students get the opportunity to experience elder care. Some have found their calling.”