The Walton Family Foundation announced three new projects for the Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program, which was established to elevate the architectural quality of public buildings and spaces in Benton and Washington counties.
“The Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program gives us an opportunity to support the unique urban fabric in downtowns in five of the largest cities in the region,” said Karen Minkel, Home Region Program director for the Walton Family Foundation. “Schools, nonprofits and municipalities will have access to talented designers who will help us reimagine and enhance our built environment.”
The three projects to be supported by the program in 2016 include:
- A municipal campus in downtown Springdale that will include a new criminal justice facility and renovated administration building. The campus will allow the City of Springdale to consolidate municipal departments, provide better services to citizens and return several tracts of tax-generating, income-producing properties for the continued revitalization of its downtown;
- A 5-acre park in downtown Siloam Springs’ Medical Springs Park that will serve as a beacon to visitors and residents. The grant to the City of Siloam Springs will pay for the design of a splash pad, amphitheater, landscaped areas, open green spaces and a farmers market venue; and
- Thaden School in downtown Bentonville, which recently announced that award-winning architects Eskew+Dumez+Ripple of New Orleans and Marlon Blackwell Architects of Fayetteville will design its 30-acre campus master plan, school buildings and landscape.
This year, 16 firms were added to the inaugural pool of designers selected in 2015. The program currently includes more than 50 architecture and landscape architecture firms representing 15 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Denmark.
The Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program provides financial support to entities such as school districts; county, state or local municipalities; and nonprofit organizations that intend to develop space for public purposes. Funds are earmarked for all phases of design work. The program was inspired by a similar enterprise in Columbus, Indiana by the Cummins Foundation.
The inaugural projects announced in 2015 include a 51,500-square-foot performance arts space for TheatreSquared in downtown Fayetteville that was recently lauded by American Theatre Magazine and ArchDaily for its facility design; a 28,000-square-foot adaptive reuse project for the Rogers Historical Museum in downtown Rogers; and a 44,000-square-foot facility and half-acre playground for the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center in downtown Bentonville.