Van Buren, Northwest Arkansas architects and projects receive AIA recognition

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 845 views 

Architects behind the Arts on Main building in downtown Van Buren, buildings at Thaden School in Bentonville, and the Jim Rollins Elementary School of Innovation in Springdale were some of the recipients of recent design awards.

The Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects presented 10 design awards at its recent state convention in Hot Springs. A jury of practicing architects from Alabama selected the 2023 AIA Arkansas Design Award winners.

The Arkansas chapter of AIA also presented achievement and recognition awards to members. Below are details on the project awards and the individual awards.

Honor Awards
Arts on Main
The relocation of the Center for Art and Education to downtown Van Buren is designed to showcase the arts while contributing to the revitalization of historic Main Street. The design melded the program requirements for art education and gallery space with the requirements for restoring the buildings to their original historic appearance.
Firm: MAHG Architecture, Inc.
Contractor: Beshears Construction

Thaden School Wheels Building
“A private school with a public purpose,” Thaden School is a new independent middle and high school in Bentonville. Home to the signature Wheels program, the Wheels Building creates a public presence for the school by linking the campus to the Bentonville Square.
Firm: Marlon Blackwell Architects
Contractor: Milestone Construction Co.

Merit Awards
England Elementary School
This new elementary school facility embodies the essence of its location, represents the spirit of an agricultural-based community and overcomes various challenges, thereby setting new benchmarks in educational infrastructure.
Firm: Modus Studio
Contractor: Kinco Constructors

Pine Bluff Main Library
City leaders and citizens wanted a place that pointed to a future that “lifted expec­tations.” What emerged was a community-embedded supportive learning center, offering not only books, but also a performance space, a teaching kitchen, recording studios, café (coming soon) and computer training for adults and youth.
Firm: Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects
Additional firm: Reed Architectural Firm
Contractor: East Harding Construction

Thaden School Performance Building
With direct connections from the stage to the back of the house, the performance hall is a versatile and professional venue for creative performance. The allocation of space advances the school’s mission and identity as a stage for improvisation, experimentation and imagination.
Firm: Marlon Blackwell Architects
Contractor: Nabholz Construction

University of Arkansas Windgate Studio and Design Center
The Windgate Studio + Design Center seeks to remove limitations through the creation of an open, flexible, and spatially rich environment. Studio spaces are tailored to provide the resources and characteristics necessary for students and faculty to fully realize their ambitions.
Firm: MAHG Architecture, Inc.
Additional firm: HGA (Hammel, Green & Abrahamson)
Contractor: Clark Contractors

Citation Awards
Bentonville East Central Hotel
Inspired by the nearby national forest and scenic riverway, the hotel embraces a biophilic design that seamlessly connects the outdoors with the interior spaces. The integration of natural elements takes center stage, featuring native wood species, abundant native plants, and subtle water features.
Firm: BRR Architecture
Additional firm: Marvel Architecture
Contractor: Flintco

NW Arkansas Artist Housing and Residency Program
The apartments in Bentonville are spacious one-bedroom units, large enough to allow for open workspace for the artist residents. The 12 separate live-work units are raised over a double-height work flexible space, which provides workspace, galleries and maker spaces serving the public and augmenting the facilities of a nearby contemporary art center.
Firm: Kevin Daly Architects

People’s Choice Award
Jim D. Rollins School of Innovation
Located on the border of growing Northwest Arkansas, the Jim Rollins Elementary School of Innovation’s shed-like forms, scale and materials echo the agrarian sense of the region and reimagines the “idea of school,” by putting education on display, inviting exploration, collaboration and promoting student agency.
Firm: WDD Architects
Contractor: Flintco Construction

Members’ Choice Award
Little Rock Police Department Headquarters
The Little Rock Police Department Headquarters is a glass and steel addition and renovation to the 1921 brick and concrete structure of the McFadden Building across the street from the previous headquarters.
Firm: WDD Architects
Contractor: Baldwin & Shell Construction Co.

• Michael LeJong
The Arkansas Chapter of the AIA presented its Fay Jones Gold Medal Award posthumously to Michael LeJong, AIA, formerly of Greenwood. He represented AIA Arkansas and the architecture community on many levels throughout his career. His service and leadership led to numerous professional accomplishments and awards. The award recognizes an individual architect who demonstrates touchstones of excellence through artistic vision and design, leadership and service to the state of Arkansas and the AIA Arkansas Chapter.

• Emerging Professionals/Young Architects Award
Nate Deason, AIA, associate principal at Fort Smith-based MAHG Architecture

• Dick Savage Memorial Award
Patty Opitz, AIA, associate principal at Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects.

• Diversity Award
Alison Turner, AIA, a teaching assistant professor of architecture and director of community education at the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design at the University of Arkansas

• Michael LeJong Leadership Award
Jonathan Opitz, AIA. A former chapter president, he has been in involved with AIA on state, regional and national levels and shares many of the attributes that made LeJong such an outstanding leader and mentor.