Construction site revealed for Alice Walton-backed Whole Health Institute in Bentonville

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 5,546 views 

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced Monday (Dec. 14) plans for the construction of a building for the Whole Health Institute, a nonprofit created to make a transformative approach to health and wellbeing available to everyone.

Founder Alice Walton, billionaire philanthropist and Walmart heir, announced the creation of Whole Health Institute during the Northwest Arkansas Council’s winter meeting at Crystal Bridges in January 2020.

The construction will be on the museum’s 120-acre grounds in Bentonville. The construction site is where the museum’s additional parking lot, near the entrance on Museum Way. The building will include space for interactive programs welcoming participation from the community and a convening space for up to 800 people, according to a news release. In addition, the building will include access to the Chopra Library and offices for both Whole Health Institute and Art Bridges.

“Crystal Bridges and Whole Health Institute are partner organizations with an aligned vision of enriching lives,” Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity & inclusion officer at Crystal Bridges, said in a statement. “We are excited to welcome them to the neighborhood and look forward to exploring the intersection of art, nature, and wellbeing through programs, conversations, and collaborations.”

The 75,000-square-foot, multi-use office and community space designed by Marlon Blackwell Architects will break ground in spring 2021 with an estimated completion date of 2023. Architect and 2020 AIA Gold Medalist, Marlon Blackwell has been instrumental in key projects at Crystal Bridges, including designing the Museum Store and a new parking deck.

“Through the design process, we are thinking about architecture’s role in presenting a space for both well-being and health education,” Blackwell said in the release. “There is a focus on creating a sense of place that manifests into the curvilinear forms and native stone inspired by the Ozark forest and karst topography. The openness of the building and access to the natural surroundings are also important elements and an invitation to actively explore healing in relation to art, nature, and architecture in a time when health is such an important local and global issue.”

Preliminary cost estimates and other specifics about the new institute were not disclosed in Monday’s news release.

“Earlier this year, we announced the Whole Health Institute with our mission to give everyone access to a transformative approach to health,” said Tracy Gaudet, executive director of the Whole Health Institute. “As our newly formed institution continues to develop, the location on Crystal Bridges’ campus and the design of this building provide an ideal setting for interactive programs that will welcome the community to take charge of their health and well-being surrounded by nature and inspiring works of art.”