Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario, a concept that uses design to tackle the issue of food insecurity in Arkansas, has been recognized this year with two major national awards and a 16-page feature story in Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center’s project won a 2016 Institute Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design from the American Institute of Architects and a 2016 Collaborative Practice Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

For the magazine story, the writer, Lauren Mandel, spent several days in the area and interviewed local farmers, restaurant owners, community program operators, university researchers and others for a comprehensive view of the region’s evolving food system.

The Community Design Center led an interdisciplinary team at the University of Arkansas for Food City Scenario, which speculates on what Fayetteville might look like if the city’s growth integrated local urban food production sustainable enough to create self-sufficiency. Fayetteville’s population of 75,000 is expected to double over the next 20 years. In addition, although the region is the most prosperous in the state, it also has one of the nation’s highest child hunger rates.

Food City Scenario is an urban agricultural project that aims to weave agricultural urbanism back into the city environment, with the prospect of helping Fayetteville achieve greater food security and resiliency, said Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center and a Distinguished Professor.

“Food production has been absent from American planning for over 80 years, despite that a traditional function of cities has always been the production and distribution of food,” Luoni said. “Food has joined issues like energy, mobility, ecology and housing as keystone topics that will guide our thinking on low-carbon futures — all now interdisciplinary concerns led by design thinking. In her bestseller, Hungry City, Carolyn Steel was so astute in the observation that food, when viewed laterally, ‘emerges as something with phenomenal power to transform not just landscapes, but political structures, public spaces, social relationships, and cities.’ The U of A’s project team demonstrates the necessity and rewards of lateral thinking, particularly as it has inflected a larger national discussion based on our experiences here.”

The project is a collaborative plan and policy platform involving:

  • Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
  • Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability
  • School of Law and Master of Laws Program in Agricultural and Food Law
  • Department of Food Science
  • City of Fayetteville.

The Community Design Center is an outreach program of the Fay Jones School.

“You obviously have a team of very thoughtful design and planning professionals,” said Robert Herman, jury chair for the AIA Regional and Urban Design category. “Your ability to tap into other resources at the University of Arkansas affords a terrific and unique collaborative opportunity.”

Preparation of Food City was sponsored in part by a grant from the Clinton Global Initiative and the American Institute of Architects under their Decade of Design initiative.

The Food City project was one of only two honored by the AIA for Regional and Urban Design; the other project was the Smithsonian Institution South Campus Master Plan, designed by BIG/Bjarke Ingels Group, a firm based in Copenhagen, Denmark. These and other AIA winning projects will be featured in the April issue of Architect magazine and exhibited at the AIA Convention in Philadelphia in May.

The AIA jury that selected the winning Regional and Urban Design projects said that Food City “addresses a big issue, one that could be replicated in many communities across the country.” They also called the proposal “a refreshing example of a remarkable plan with tremendous local support. … It codifies all the opportunities we have to provide these services to our cities.”

Herman said that Food City impressed jury members in the way that the plan addressed very complex issues related to the concept of agricultural urbanism.

“The way in which it aggregated traditional and contemporary technologies into a single place, and then applied those components in the real world of Fayetteville, provided a very interesting, design-oriented approach to the problem,” he said.

This is the center’s 12th national AIA Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design.

The Food City project was among four projects honored by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Collaborative Practice Award. It will be featured at the annual ACSA meeting in Seattle in March and in the organization’s annual education awards publication.

The Food City project has previously received a 2015 Honor Award in the Analysis and Planning category from the American Society of Landscape Architects and a 2015 Great Places Award in the Planning Category from the Environmental Design Research Association, as well as a 2015 Green Good Design Award and a 2014 American Architecture Award, both from The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design. It also won an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Progressive Architecture Awards program and an Award of Merit in the category for Planning Tool or Process in the 2014 Charter Awards program from the Congress for the New Urbanism.

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AuthorLinda Komlos