The Walton Family Foundation said Monday (Oct. 26) its Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program will provide grants for three new projects. As part of the announcement, the foundation also released a new report assessing the program’s impact.
“The Design Excellence Program champions a diverse mix of public buildings and spaces that connect communities and help celebrate the region’s unique culture,” said Karen Minkel, the foundation’s Home Region Program director, said in a statement. “These new projects will build on that momentum by supporting inclusive gathering places, neighborhood-scale experiences and vibrant outdoor destinations.”
This year, the program will provide grants for these projects:
- Enhancement of The Jones Center’s 52-acre campus: The Jones Trust will redesign its campus as a regional destination and create stronger physical connections to downtown Springdale and Luther George Park. The space will include park-like green spaces, inviting bike paths, infrastructure improvements and enhanced recreational amenities to serve diverse communities in an accessible and welcoming environment.
- Reimagined network of alleys in Downtown Rogers: The city of Rogers will transform five blocks of alleyways into an arts-focused neighborhood destination and pedestrian network. Located at the heart of many downtown destinations, the project will create more social space, spur economic development and build on the unique historic fabric of the city’s downtown.
- Design of The Commons in the Quilt of Parks: The city of Bentonville will complete the design for The Commons, a plaza in the Quilt of Parks and an extension of Bentonville Square. The plaza will include recreation spaces and areas for public events, outdoor dining and community gathering.
The Design Excellence Program was created in 2015 to promote the highest level of design in the development of future public buildings and spaces in Benton and Washington counties. It selects projects based on four key principles: a commitment to strengthening public life; elevating standards of sustainability and resilience; celebrating local cultures and place; and building regional capacity.
With the addition of the new projects, the Design Excellence Program now supports 15 public spaces across the region’s five largest downtowns.