Projects designed by the faculty and staff of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design recently were recognized in awards programs sponsored by Architecture Podium and the Florida/Caribbean chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization for Little Rock won an AIA Florida/Caribbean Honor Award and received honorable mention in the Urban Design (Concept) category of the International Awards 2015, sponsored by Architecture Podium. Architecture Podium aims to acknowledge the most creative and innovative projects in the field of architecture and create an interactive educational platform of the highest standards, according to its website.

The Creative Corridor, a collaboration between the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architects, retrofits a four-block segment of downtown Main Street into a visual and performing arts district. The goal is to structure an identity for the Creative Corridor rooted in a mixed-use work-live environment while remaining sensitive to the street's historical context. Planning and design for the Creative Corridor was funded by a 2011 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and construction on streetscape improvements began last fall.

The completion of that first construction phase will be unveiled with a grand opening event at 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, 601 Main St., in Little Rock.

"Implementation of the first phase for the Creative Corridor initiates one of the largest green infrastructure investments nationally in a downtown public right-of-way, thanks to funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission," said Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center, an outreach program of the Fay Jones School. "This public sector investment triangulating ecological, social and economic interests has also attracted $80 million in private investments, with more on the way. The momentum is inspiring, as the ongoing revitalization of Main Street has become an important reference for other cities statewide seeking to reclaim the incredible sense of place that lay dormant in many of their downtowns."

Luoni also will make a keynote presentation on the Creative Corridor, "Making New Places From Old Spaces: An Award Winning Urban Regeneration Project," later this month at the Seventh International Conference on World Class Sustainable Cities, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Luoni is a Distinguished Professor of architecture and the Steven L. Anderson Chair in Architecture and Urban Studies in the Fay Jones School. Marlon Blackwell, whose firm is based in Fayetteville, also is a Distinguished Professor and the E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture in the school.

A second project led by the UA Community Design Center, the Trailhead Complex at the Maumelle Nature Center, also won an AIA Florida/Caribbean Honor Award. The Trailhead Complex project is part of Central Arkansas Water's reforestation initiative as a water supply protection measure within the Lake Maumelle watershed, outside of Little Rock. The environmental education center is conceived as an exhibit landscape that curates visitors' passage through unique ecological facilities, landscapes and architectural structures. The Community Design Center completed the project in association with Geosyntec Consultants and the Watershed Conservation Resource Center.

AuthorLinda Komlos