Posts tagged with "Arkansas":

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Camille Walala rejuvenates an Arkansas gas station from eyesore to icon

French artist Camille Walala descended on Fort Smith, Arkansas, to flip a disused 1950s gas station into an unexpectedly bright piece of public art. Nestled on a sharp corner joining two boulevards, Walala and the women-led creative house Justkids saw an opportunity for a low-budget but high-impact project and needed little more than cans of colorful paints. “I love this canvas,” said Walala, “it was exciting to do something really bold, that stands out on a bigger scale.” Using joyful geometric designs rendered in contrasting primary colors, Walala exercised her signature hybrid style over the space by using a mix of tribal-inspired bold patterning and Pop Art color palettes. The result is a social hub for the town that also serves as a visual landmark, and its success is a reminder that urban regeneration doesn’t necessarily need to be built from the ground up. This unique approach to urban planning is at the core of Justkid’s mission, aligning with their goals to “propel place-making by delivering art experiences that create a unique sense of community.” Since the house’s founding in 2014, Justkids has completed over a dozen projects around the world, emphasizing color and playfulness in each collaboration. The gas station was reimagined thanks to the help of many local volunteers, many of them teenagers, as well as a collaboration with local artist Nate Meyers. The curator of Justkids, Charlotte Dutoit, commented on the transformation saying, “After five years of curating diverse visual projects in Fort Smith, I learned that a big part of good place-making is creating community and a sense of re-discovery of the beauty that is there, in the city, all along, and Camille’s work does just that.”  This spirit of architectural preservation and the re-presentation of history is not only socially impactful but also sustainable, offering a second chance for forgotten or unloved architecture across the country. This collaboration with a visual artist to actively rejuvenate a space, and not only stamp landmark protections on preservation documents, incited real change for the community and sets a precedent for future projects worldwide. In just one week, Walala was able to synthesize inspirations from the Memphis movement to the women of the Southern Ndebele tribe and make a lasting impression, with only a formerly placeless intersection as her canvas. 
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Gensler will lead the project team for Walmart's new headquarters

Gensler has been announced as the lead firm on the project team for the new Walmart headquarters in Arkansas. The 350-acre home office campus, centered around community, innovation, and sustainability, will be located between Central Avenue and Highway 102 in Bentonville, Arkansas Dan Bartlett, the executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart, announced the project team for the campus as design leaders across both the Arkansas community and the world. His team choice was intended to highlight the collaboration between global and local designers. The rest of the project team includes: Miller Boskus Lack Architects of Fayetteville, Arkansas, CEI Engineering Associates, Inc. of Bentonville, Walter P Moore of Houston, Sasaki of Watertown, Massachusetts, and the Los Angeles branch of landscape architecture firm SWA Group. The team will focus their abilities towards amenity buildings, low-cost engineering and material sourcing, a downtown extension, and wildlife preservation.  Douglas C. Gensler, Gensler's managing director and principal, issued the following comment for Walmart's website: “We are honored and humbled to be the creative partner helping shape Walmart’s future campus. The design is innovative, resilient, thoughtful and purpose-driven that places people at the heart of the company's next chapter. The new Walmart campus will embody the DNA attributes for a connected and successful work-place with the latest advances in technology and sustainability, while reflecting the Walmart culture and seamlessly integrating into the fabric of the community.” The new headquarters will span 20 buildings, with the "Razorback Regional Greenway" running through the center of the campus, harmonizing biking and walking trails that encourage internal mobility. The offices are expected to hold 14,000- to- 17,000 employees, and will join expanded cafeteria spaces, fitness spaces, a childcare facility, and accessible parking. The renderings, released in May, display office buildings boasting large windows with an abundance of natural light and open green spaces seeded with native vegetation that bolster the sustainable design.  Gensler has noted that the buildings will feature energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems under the goal of creating a zero-waste environment that operates completely on renewable energy.  The new Walmart Arkansas headquarters will be another corporate campus that Gensler can add to their extensive resume; it joins Facebook’s one-million-square-foot headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the Washington Post Offices in Washington D.C., and the renovation of the Adobe campus in San Jose, California.
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Studio Gang and SCAPE team up for Arkansas cultural project

MacArthur Fellows Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture are teaming up to re-envision the prestigious Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) and adjacent MacArthur Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. Set to break ground this fall, the 127,000-square-foot project—both a renovation and new construction effort—will help clarify the 104-year-old cultural institution’s interior organization, while also amplifying its presence in the historic landscape with a contemporary visual identity. Gang said the firm’s vision will “unlock new connections” between the existing programming on site, which includes a renowned Museum School, Children’s Theatre, and a gallery space that hosts the AAC’s permanent art collection. Since the Center opened on this site in 1937, several major additions have been built. By 1963, the museum had five galleries, four studio classrooms, sculpture courtyards, an art library, and a 381-seat theater, but according to Studio Gang, the AAC suffered from inefficient operational adjacencies—meaning it’s hard for visitors to get from one area to the other. To fix this issue, the design team will create what they call a “stem” that cuts through and “blossoms” to the north and south of the Center. A pleated, thin-plate structure that appears to lightly undulate across the site and into MacArthur Park, the new architecture will not only anchor new visitor amenities but also define a new public gallery and gathering space while simultaneously weaving together the AAC’s various programs. “New daylit spaces linked through the core of the Center will facilitate movement and create a series of vibrant, new public spaces for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts,” said Gang in a statement. Initial aerial renderings reveal the way this simple architecture intervention will strengthen the Center’s programming and relationship with the park. Located on the south side of the museum on a current parking lot, Studio Gang has designed a 10,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion underneath the structural canopy with room for dining and respite in the shade. The transparent skin of the structure will provide visitors with a direct connection to nature. In time, SCAPE’s landscape addition, which will include 2,200 linear feet of new paths and trails, as well as 250 trees, will merge with the Center’s canopy to become a parkland forest. Just as important to the revitalization project will be the renovation of all existing facilities on site. Studio Gang will renovate the original 1937 Museum of Fine Arts facade (the AAC’s former name) which serves as the northern entrance. According to the architects, from there they will “excavate” the existing building—a series of fortress-like spaces—by opening up the lecture hall, theater, and studios, among others parts to the new public areas. For example, on the north end, there will be a 5,500-square-foot "Cultural Living Room" that can be both a flexible gathering space or play host to special events. The massive cultural project is being backed by an ambitious $128 million fundraising campaign. So far, $118 million has already been raised, including a $31,245,000 commitment from the City of Little Rock. The new Arkansas Arts Center is expected to be complete in early 2022.
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A twisting treehouse by modus studio blooms above the forest floor

Following a soft opening last June, Modus Studio’s hovering Tree House has been captured amid its fully-installed landscape in the firm’s native Arkansas. Tree House sits above the Garvan Woodland Gardens, a 210-acre botanical garden owned by the University of Arkansas—frequent Modus collaborators. Rather than sitting at the base of the oak and pine trees found in the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden, Tree House has been elevated to the top of the forest, allowing for expansive views of the canopy. The L-shaped treehouse snakes through the trees, ballooning from a child-sized opening at one end to a two-story observation area, capped with a steel screen, fabricated in-house by Modus, that mimics leaflike capillaries. Other than its biomorphic shape, the treehouse is strongly defined by its central steel spine and 113 timber ribs, which were sourced from local Southern Yellow Pine. The fins simultaneously allow the elements to pass through the treehouse while potentially obscuring the forest and adding a sense of mystery for the occupants. The first of three planned treehouses, the structure was envisioned as a refuge for children to explore the outdoors while learning about nature. Everything from the infrastructure, to the programming, to the intricate finishes, reference dendrology, the study of trees. Visitors can access the treehouse either from an elevated trail or directly from a staircase at the forest’s floor. The Fayetteville-based modus, an Emerging Voices 2018 winner, cited its deep ties to Arkansas’s rural landscape in designing Tree House and were directly involved in every step of the project's process.
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Arkansas to get a 28,000 square-foot "reptile garden"

Hot Springs, Arkansas, a town of just 37,000 most famous for its namesake hot springs, is getting an unusual new attraction: a 28,000 square-foot indoor reptile garden. The habitat, the brainchild of local business owner Dennis Magee, will feature a snake house with local non-venomous and venomous snakes, as well as, according to the local Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “examples of the larger and more interesting snakes that are found around the world.” It will also feature all variety of lizards, crocodiles, alligators, and turtles, curated by a herpetologist with the Little Rock Zoo and another from the United Kingdom. It will also have various birds, to be overseen by a retired lawyer and the former president of the Arkansas Falconer’s Club. The expansive indoor zoo, designed by Rico Harris of Harris Architects, will also feature a “Boa Bar,” “Gator Lounge,” and, of course, a gift shop. The date for breaking ground is still unannounced.
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Snaking Tree House from modus studio opens to the public this weekend

Emerging Voices winner modus studio has nearly completed a floating treehouse in the Garvan Woodland Gardens of their native Arkansas. The twisting timber Tree House rises between the oak and pine trees of the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden and is designed both to mimic the surrounding woods as well as to draw children back into nature. A soft opening for the Tree House this Saturday will cap several years of construction. Garvan Woodland Gardens is the University of Arkansas’s 210-acre botanical garden, and one of only eight public woodland gardens in the country. Modus is a frequent collaborator with the university, having most recently completed the transformation of the school’s sculpture studio. The Tree House is the first of three proposed for the woods, and modus took design cues from nature to create an arboreal play space that doubles as an educational station where visitors can learn about how trees grow. As visitors follow a suspended catwalk through the woods and the foliage recedes, visitors are gradually confronted with the Tree House’s mass. The curved Tree House reaches two stories at one end and tapers to a child-sized window at the other. The curvilinear plan, combined with the timber ribs that make up the tree house’s open structure, creates a biomorphic shape that references the expansion of tree rings. The screen created by the gaps in the scaffolding regulates light, creates unique vantage points for visitors at different parts of the tree house, and allows the building to further blend into the forest. The Tree House is rife with other biophilic touches. A timber staircase allows children to descend to the Root Plaza below, where they can experience the foliage from ground-level (or ascend up to the canopy from a trail). Inside, modus used their in-house fabrication shop to build a steel screen reminiscent of a decaying leaf, capping the tree house’s larger end while still allowing views out to the forest. Slices from native trees, bark, and other teaching tools inside the treehouse build on what modus calls the “theme of dendrology, the study of trees and wooded plants” to drive programming. The privately funded, $1.8 million project will hold its “soft” opening to the public this weekend as the landscaping underneath and some interior components are not fully installed yet. A full grand opening is expected for the fall. AN will update this article to include completed photos of the Tree House after its opening on June 30.
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Modus Studio gets ahead by sticking to its Arkansas roots

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Modus Studio founder Chris Baribeau will deliver his lecture on March 1st, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. Modus Studio might have started in 2008 as a two-man operation in cofounder Chris Baribeau’s back office, but the firm’s expansion to 24 people and a full fabrication shop shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The office’s intensive focus on the surrounding Arkansas environment and their hands-on approach have drawn attention both inside and outside of the state. “A thinking–making philosophy really evolved out of our passions, from working through college, working on construction, working on fabrication,” explained Baribeau. “It set the tone for the rest of our professional work.” Modus is a frequent collaborator with the University of Arkansas and has designed for the school a pair of mass timber residence halls, an athletic area master plan, and, most recently, a sculpture studio— although the firm has realized nearly every type of project. Its single-family homes typically draw on the surrounding geographies and ecosystems to influence the final forms, as is the case with Van Huset on the Bluff, a stark cabin overlooking Beaver Lake, in northwest Arkansas. Educational work has a special place in the studio’s canon. Green Forest Middle School, Modus’s first project, was also the first school that either Baribeau or cofounder Josh Siebert had ever worked on. Having to leap into a new building typology meant engaging heavily with the community at every step of the school’s design and construction, an approach that has carried over to all of their projects afterward. Timber and sustainability are prominent through-lines in many of Modus’s built works, no matter the intended use. Working with timber allows the studio to harvest wood directly from the trees on-site, or if they’re not able to do so, connect with Arkansas’s timber industry. Even Modus’s Fayetteville office, a reclaimed warehouse clad in timber that was charred in the fabrication shop, is winning notice, as it was Arkansas’s only LEED Platinum– certified building in 2017. “We’re very connected to the natural world,” said Baribeau. “And being in the Ozarks, the language of the rugged mountains and valleys and rivers connects us to the outdoor world. We’re straddling this dynamic place that’s somewhere between the manmade and the natural world. Our buildings are about fitting into the landscape and drawing inspiration from the context around the site.” Modus views its location outside of the “major design cities” as a boon. Arkansas is in the process of rebuilding and infilling its urban centers, providing the studio an opportunity to experiment while allowing them to build their brand through projects that serve the community. While Modus has begun working on projects as far north as Illinois, Baribeau is most proud of the K–12 schools that the studio has designed for low-income, rural areas. “We’ve found, particularly in this region of Arkansas, how rural communities are really underserved in terms of good design. The hub of that community, their tax money, the local football team, all focuses around the public school. For us, the ongoing tilling of the soil is to raise the bar for rural communities."
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Design collaboration brings mass timber residence halls to the University of Arkansas

A national design collaboration led by Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates and including Arkansas-based Modus Studio, St. Louis–based Mackey Mitchell Architects, and Philadelphia-based OLIN has created America’s first large-scale, mass timber interactive learning project, already under construction at the University of Arkansas. Working off of a “cabin the woods” concept, 708-bed Stadium Drive Residence Halls feature fully exposed, locally harvested wood structural elements. The residence halls are a pair of snaking buildings joined in a central plaza, and include classrooms, dining facilities, maker-spaces, performance spaces, administrative offices, and faculty housing. The five-story buildings, totaling 202,027 square feet, are clad in a zinc-colored paneling, while copper-toned panels are scattered along each floor that appear to float above the heavily planted backdrop. Inside, wooden columns, beams and cross-bracing are all displayed to present a sense of warmth, and to connect students with Arkansas’s local ecology. The halls terminate with large study rooms at the end of each floor, which light up at night and act as beacons for the rest of the campus. The panels were constructed from Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), while the structural columns and beams are made of glulam, where layers of wood all facing the same direction are laminated together under pressure. Each arched building curves around a courtyard or common park area and students enter the complex through a covered “front porch” at the northern building’s main entrance. The central gathering room that connects the hall’s two wings has been dubbed the “cabin,” and despite being relatively small, packs in a hearth, community kitchen, lounge spaces, and a planted green roof. Each hall also features a double-height ground floor lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape. “The interwoven building and landscaped courtyards, terraces, and lawns; the beauty of timber structure and spaces; and the excitement of performing arts and workshop facilities will make this newest campus residential community a destination and a magnet,” said Andrea P. Leers, principal of Leers Weinzapfel Associates. Leers Weinzapfel is no stranger to working with timber, as its multidisciplinary design building for UMass Amherst wrapped up construction late last year. The project is expected to finish in 2019, and will anchor a new master plan for the University of Arkansas campus.
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Duvall Decker unveil an expansive Arkansas municipal campus

Jackson, Mississippi-based Duvall Decker Architects have unveiled designs for a expansive municipal campus for the city of Springdale, Arkansas. When completed, the 120,000-square-foot complex will consolidate a number of municipal departments in order to better serve the surrounding community. The project will include a much-needed new police facility, a state district court, and also encompass a renovated city administrative building. Springdale has seen a massive population increase in the last 20 years, and the current 43,000-square-foot city building can no longer handle the needs of the city. The police force has also grown from a staff of 75 to 200 in that time, and the court now hears an additional 20,000 more cases per year. Understanding that the city may continue to grow, Duvall Decker’s design allows for future additions. The new campus will fit into an earlier master plan, which has guided the revival of the city’s downtown. That master plan is designed to connect a number of civic and recreational green spaces, including a bike trail that connects Fayetteville to Bentonville through Springdale. The new municipal complex will sit along this corridor, and will be the anchor for a new civic hub in the city. Duvall Decker were awarded a 2017 Architectural League Emerging Voices award and have worked extensively on civic and cultural buildings throughout the South. Currently working through the planning phases of the project, Duvall Decker worked with public safety and court consultants from Dewberry Architects and partnered with local firm Hight Jackson Associates.
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New exhibition at the Arkansas Art Center highlights the early works of Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams: Early Works, the first exhibition of Ansel Adams’s photography hosted by the Arkansas Arts Center, will showcase 41 prints done by Adams from the 1920s through the 1950s, highlighting his small-scale images. Adams was known for his photography of natural sites such as Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and the Sierra Nevadas, and this exhibition will tie into the completion of the 100th anniversary of the National Park System. According to the Arkansas Arts Center, Adams wasb a “photographer, musician, naturalist, explorer, critic, and teacher, was a giant in the field of American landscape photography. His work can be viewed as the end of an arc of American art concerned with capturing the ‘sublime’ in the unspoiled Western landscape.”

Ansel Adams: Early Works Arkansas Arts Center 501 East 9th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Through April 16, 2017

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United States Marshals Museum moves closer to construction

To coincide with the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service, the United States Marshals Museum’s opening date is set for September 24, 2019. Designed by Cambridge Seven Associates along with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, the institution’s foundation has also launched a $60 million fundraising campaign for construction.

The new 50,000-square-foot museum will be located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and will feature a collection of artifacts spread across three galleries exploring the 230-year history of the nation’s oldest law enforcement agency, a Hall of Honor for those killed in the line of duty, and a National Learning Center that will promote an understanding of constitutional democracy.

Peter Kuttner, president of Cambridge Seven Associates and principal architect for the museum, consciously blended history with modern sustainability in the design. The museum looks out over the Arkansas River, which used to serve as a border between the former colonies and what was known as the frontier at the time of the Marshals’ establishment in 1789. The scheme also incorporates photovoltaic panels and vegetative roofing along the building’s star-shaped design, which,along with its use of bronze, is reflective of the badges worn by marshals in earlier years.

From his research, Kuttner found that “there was no official badge manufacturer in Washington,” that “some were stamped on tin, some were cast, some [stars] had five points, some had six points,” and “when you buy souvenirs, they’re all different sizes and looks.”

For his inspiration for the star-shaped aesthetic, Kuttner looked to one of the last scenes in the movie High Noon, in which U.S. Marshal Will Kane tosses his badge to the ground. “It hits at an angle, with some of the points jutting out of the ground,” he said, explaining his approach to the museum as “low on the front, and high on the back.” The infamous High Noon drawing by former President Bill Clinton, who serves as honorary chair of the museum’s executive committee, still hangs in the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, and served as “a great little connection” that got the committee on board, Kuttner said.

The facility is projected to cost $35.9 million, with $12.3 million in total exhibits, a $4 million endowment, nearly $3 million in contingencies, and $3.5 million for one-year operating expenses. Just over $29 million is listed in committed fundraising so far.

With almost half of the campaign target already secured, the museum still faces fundraising challenges. In a conversation with Talk Business & Politics, Jim Dunn, president of the U.S. Marshals Museum Foundation, cited the agency’s low profile, as well as the location of its future home in Fort Smith as specific points of tension. “Convincing donors to export large chunks of money to a distant and unknown community is difficult,” he said.

At present, the museum’s eight-member staff is working out of offices in Fort Smith, maintaining some 500 items that will eventually be used in the museum’s exhibitions. The museum staff is set to expand to 18–20 people upon opening.

With regard to the museum’s funding and the array of design elements, specifically the sustainable features, Kuttner expressed anxiety about its execution: “I’m crossing my fingers that those elements survive value-engineering,” he said.

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Studio Gang to design Arkansas Art Center expansion

The Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) has announced Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects as the design architect for its next building project. Studio Gang was selected from a field of five finalists that included Allied Works, Shigeru Ban, Thomas Phifer, and Snohetta. “Designing a re-envisioned Arkansas Arts Center is a truly exciting commission,” Studio Gang founder Jeanne Gang said in a press release. “Its extraordinary collection, historic MacArthur Park setting, and rich mix of programs present a unique opportunity to redefine how the arts can strengthen local communities and surrounding regions. We look forward to working closely with the AAC to discover how architecture can enhance the Center’s important civic and cultural mission by creating new connections between people and the arts in Little Rock and beyond.” More than just a renovation and expansion of the museum's current building, the project is expected to completely change the way the museum is used and interacts with the surrounding downtown. “This project is about more than just addressing the physical issues of the current building. It requires rethinking how the AAC fits into the downtown fabric,” said Todd Herman, executive director for the AAC. “How can we best serve the community, and how do the AAC and MacArthur Park connect to other social and cultural nodes in downtown Little Rock? We want to do more than build; we want to transform the cultural experience.” The AAC was founded in 1960 and has a permanent collection with a heavy emphasis on drawing, watercolors, and other works on paper. This includes works from Rembrandt, Picasso, and Degas. The museum also possesses the largest U.S. collection of drawings and watercolors of early 20th century French Neo-Impressionist painter Paul Signac. The next step in the $65-million project will be to select a local architect to collaborate on the project. According to the museum’s website, an RFQ will be issued this month for that position.