On May 7, the 2015 AIA Florida/Caribbean Design Awards Jury convened in Boston to evaluate the nearly 300 projects submitted for this year's awards program.

After a full day of deliberation, the jury ultimately selected 25 projects for recognition. Jury members included Chris Genter, AIA, LEED AP of Boston firm, Utile; Diane Dooley, AIA, LEED AP, principal and senior living project practice leader at DiMella Shaffer and leader of the AIA's Design for Aging Community; and Nader Tehrani, principal and founder of NADAAA and professor at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning.

Projects may be given an Honor Award (the higher of the two) or a Merit Award for design in each respective category. Winners will be recognized on August 1, during the 2015 AIA Florida Convention at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. It is with distinct pleasure that AIA Florida recognizes UACDC along with 24 other firms for their selection for a 2015 AIA Florida/Caribbean Design Award. Two UACDC projects, the Trailhead Complex at Maumelle Nature Center and the Little Rock Creative Corridor have received Honor Awards.

The Little Rock Creative Corridor

The Little Rock Creative Corridor

The Trailhead Complex at Maumelle Nature Center

AuthorLinda Komlos

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center received two new awards for a project that seeks to build food sustainability by promoting local urban agriculture.

The project, Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario, won a 2015 Great Places Award in the Planning Category from the Environmental Design Research Association.

It also received a 2015 Green Good Design Award from The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design.

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 state’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 has been absent in planning and urban design, but that is changing as cities worldwide are trying to build greater resilience. Food City asks what kind of infrastructure would a city have to develop if it cultivated a local food system?” Luoni said. “The scenario led to the invention of planning tools for reclaiming a missing middle scale of urban agriculture between that of the individual garden and the industrial farm. Award programs are intrigued by the notion of food as a pressing topic that cuts across fundamental social, economic, political and ecological relationships. Food can simultaneously build greater prosperity, social capital and a true sense of place.”

This collaborative project involved the Fay Jones School of Architecture, the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability, the School of Law and its master of laws program in agricultural and food law, and the Department of Food Science, as well as the city of Fayetteville. Preparation of Food City Scenario was sponsored in part by a grant from the Clinton Global Initiative and the American Institute of Architects under its Decade of Design initiative.

The Food City Scenario project previously received an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Progressive Architecture Awards program, as well as 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.

The Great Places Award program recognizes projects that show concern for human factors in the design of the built environments, as well as commitment to promoting the links between design research and practice. This is the center’s fourth award from the association.

This year’s Green Good Design Award recognized 65 consumer product designs and 25 pieces of architecture and urban planning projects from 24 countries. The European Centre and The Chicago Athenaeum will organize a special exhibition at their museum in Athens, Greece, featuring the winning products, landscapes and buildings. The exhibition also is scheduled to travel, and the winning projects can be found on The Chicago Athenaeum’s website.

In addition, alumni of the Fay Jones School were among the designers for another recipient of a 2015 Green Good Design Award. Modus Studio in Fayetteville was recognized for its project Eco Modern Flats, also in Fayetteville. This project revamped four apartment buildings that were constructed from 1968-72 near the University of Arkansas campus and downtown Fayetteville. The result was modern, urban, green multifamily rental units that saved operations costs through energy and water-saving updates. It became the first multifamily project in Arkansas to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

AuthorLinda Komlos

Atlanta, May 14, 2015 – The AIA Foundation, now called the Architects Foundation, today announced two more Regional Resilience Design Studios as part of its ongoing National Resilience Initiative, which aims to create a network of Regional Resilience Design Studios across the country.

The two new studios are Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, part of the School of Architecture in the College of Architecture, Art and Design; and the University of Arkansas' Community Design Center at the Fay Jones School of Architecture.

“These two new studios, based on the Gulf Coast and in tornado-prone Arkansas, are crucial to our creating a national network of resilience design experts who can help communities become resilient and prepare both for disasters and the effects of climate change,” said Sherry-Lea Bloodworth-Botop, Executive Director of the Architects Foundation.

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center, UACDC, addresses core challenges in the built environment by emphasizing transit-oriented development, watershed urbanism, low impact development, context-sensitive street design, agricultural urbanism, and smart growth urbanism. The school’s top three project types are (1) smart growth urbanism (particularly related to its tornado recovery planning projects); (2) context-sensitive street design related to revitalization of walkable downtowns; (3) and low impact development work associated with new practices in the ecological management of urban storm water runoff

“This initiative has the potential to do for design what public health as a vector of innovation did for the medical profession,” said Stephen Luoni, Director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Steven L. Anderson Chair in Architecture and Urban Studies at the Fay Jones School of Architecture. “The NRI is a tremendously important step toward building the frameworks and influence that will amplify the design professions’ value to the public."

Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, located in Biloxi, Mississippi, was created to respond to Hurricane Katrina and has evolved from disaster recovery to long-term efforts of resilience. The design studio has a full-time staff of planners, architects and landscape architects and works in collaboration with many municipal and community organizations on projects that address mitigation and adaption of households and communities facing hurricane risks, the economic challenges of living in expanded flood zones, and coastal environments threatened by increased development and sea level rise. The design studio’s work includes fortified and flood-proof building design, community engaged storm water and flood-resistant landscapes, low impact land-use in watershed planning, and regional information and cooperation.

“The challenge to transform our cities to be more resilient for extreme events should be seen as an opportunity to make our cities better places to live from day to day,” said David Perkes, Director, Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. “The increasing public awareness of risk is an opportunity for all of us to make stronger and more livable cities.” 

First announced at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, the NRI is a partnership that also includes the Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Rockefeller’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative and others that seek to build a network of community-and university-based design studios dedicated to sharing best practices about how to help communities establish built environments that are more prepared for disasters and more resilient following shocks and stresses.

In 2014, the Foundation announced the first Regional Resilience Design Studio at the New Jersey Institute of Technology's Center for Resilient Design in Newark, N.J. The program was kicked-off with an initial $250,000 social impact investment by Benjamin Moore & Co.

About the Architects Foundation
The American Institute of Architects Foundation, now called the Architects Foundation, advances excellence in design for the benefit of the public.  As a nonprofit philanthropic extension of the American Institute of Architects, the Architects Foundation is the consummate voice and advocate for architecture and design in America.  The Architects Foundation is dedicated to the belief that good design is good for all and plays an essential role in transforming lives and building a better world.

AuthorMatthew Petty

Award is fifth for Community Design Center in eight years

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center has received a national award for a housing design that regenerates the urban context of downtown Fayetteville as an arts district. The Community Design Center is an outreach program of the Fay Jones School of Architecture.

Four Urban Housing Narratives: Getting the City to be a Master Developer

Four Urban Housing Narratives: Getting the City to be a Master Developer

The Community Design Center won a 2014-15 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture/American Institute of Architects Housing Design Education Award for Four Urban Housing Narratives: Getting the City to be a Master Developer, work that was done in the center’s fall 2013 architectural design studio.

This project was one of two this year to win the award, which recognizes the importance of good education in housing design to produce architects ready for practice in a wide range of areas and able to be capable leaders and contributors to their communities.

Downtown Fayetteville, like many cities, has mostly seen suburban development solutions over the last 25 years because that is what the market rewarded. This proposal, funded in part by a National Endowment for the Arts grant, establishes an urban vision and accompanying pro formastandards by which the city and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce could control the development of its downtown holdings.

The goal of the project is to transform a city-owned parking lot on Dickson Street into a pedestrian-oriented residential anchor for the city’s downtown arts district. Housing configurations delineate new public spaces while creating housing options for those who want to live downtown, including underserved middle-class constituencies. The project revives a missing middle scale of multi-family housing characteristic in high-quality urban neighborhoods –townhouses, urban flats, mansion apartments, patio units and terraced housing.

Four Urban Housing Narratives: Getting the City to be a Master Developer is a collective of proposed housing designs from four student teams who worked with the school’s Community Design Center staff to prepare an urban revitalization approach. The four plans, ranging from lean to ambitious, feature multi-family housing in tandem with a $32 million expansion to the Walton Arts Center and streetscape improvements for West Avenue.

Each approach addresses market challenges in financing, return on investment in structured parking, vertical mixed-uses, elevator expenses and incremental implementation, providing city officials with comparative options to elicit an informed public discussion on development features. The four design approaches also address public-policy challenges in downtown development regarding parking solutions, context-sensitive street design, and inclusionary housing. Advertisement for a design/development team will be conducted once the School Avenue parking garage is completed next year.

“The DNA of our cities is tied to the social life shaped by housing and transportation solutions,” said Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center. “We viewed this project as something more than simply providing housing solutions. We wanted to stimulate the supportive public policy, decision-making and municipal administrative frameworks indispensible to building great downtowns. The private sector has not been able to deliver an affordable urban housing supply despite the demand for housing in downtown neighborhoods. This means reclaiming more nuanced partnerships between public and private sectors to achieve the city’s development goals.”

One of the design approaches in the project would alternate parallel bands of public space and housing rows to ensure high-quality urban landscape frontage for all housing units, and is the only approach of the four that relies solely upon surface parking without the need for costly structured parking. A second design approach would cluster micro-scale housing pockets and open spaces, giving a high-density solution a low-density feeling that is familiar to most people.

The third design approach would provide a town plaza to accommodate festivals and maximize event space, projecting a strong civic identity around which mixed-use housing and commercial functions are arranged. The fourth design would stack housing into dramatic terrace formations, providing the downtown arts district and the region with a powerful new architectural icon that complements the arts center. Here, the Nadine Baum Studios plaza acts as a terminus for the Art Loop, which provides galleries, retail shops and restaurants along West Avenue in support of an expanded arts center. The fourth design also provides the highest residential density, which helps absorb the higher construction costs associated with the terracing of building levels.

This is the Community Design Center’s fifth ACSA/AIA Housing Design Education Award. The program has given 20 such awards nationwide in its eight-year history. This year’s winning projects will be featured at the 103rd annual meeting of the ACSA, planned for March 19-21, in Toronto. All award winners will be published in the forthcoming 2014-2015 Architecture Education Awards Book.

AuthorMatthew Petty

Community Design Center, Blackwell firm collaborate

A plan to transform four neglected blocks of Main Street in downtown Little Rock into an arts district has won a 2014 Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architecture. Faculty and staff members of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas designed this award-winning work.

The Little Rock Creative Corridor

The Little Rock Creative Corridor

The https://ua-cdc.squarespace.com/work/the-creative-corridor, designed by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Balckwell Architect won an Honor Award for Analysis and Planning, one of five awarded. This is the design center’s sixth ASLA award and the fifth that they have received in this category.

The Creative Corridor plan retrofits a four-block segment of Main Street, between third and seventh streets, by using economic development catalyzed by the cultural arts rather than a traditional retail base. The goal is to structure an identity for the Creative Corridor rooted in a mixed-use, work-live environment that is also sensitive to the historical context of Main Street in Little Rock, which has a metropolitan area population of about 700,000.

The ASLA award represents the highest recognition in landscape architecture design and planning open to North American organizations for work underway worldwide. Thirty-four award-winning projects were selected from more than 600 entries.

The work will be featured in the October issue of Landscape Architect Magazine, and celebrated and exhibited at the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo in Denver in November.

The Creative Corridor’s incremental approach employs three developmental phases to transform the corridor space into a downtown hub that supports a greater level of pedestrian activity, sociability, recreation and aesthetics. To ensure continuity between new and old, the project team devised a townscaping strategy that recombines special architectural frontages with urban landscapes, public art, and shared street geometries to serve this new aggregated arts economy. The Creative Corridor features elements such as marquees, stormwater management landscapes, new public rail transit, and an art installation made from street lamps of different eras from city neighborhoods.

An increasing number of public, private and non-profit groups have already invested in Main Street in recent years, including developers Scott Reed and Moses Tucker Real Estate, and that trend is continuing. Orbea, a Spanish bicycle manufacturer, relocated its North American headquarters to Main Street; the Arkansas Venture Center soon will open on the same block; and the Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board recently voted to build the park downtown along Main Street. Arts and culture mainstays like Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arkansas and Arkansas Repertory Theatre will occupy rehearsal and creative space alongside Kent Walker Artisan Cheese and artist Matt McLeod. Residential installations and dining, along with several other projects, will round out the live/work/play concept that surrounds the Creative Corridor.

“The list of investments rolling in from the private sector is impressive as construction commences on the Creative Corridor,” said Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center. “It’s instructive to see the power of public sector leadership in catalyzing urban revitalization simply by establishing a coherent vision. The project is attracting attention from multiple agencies in Washington, D.C., looking for public-private success stories.”

The Community Design Center is an outreach program of the Fay Jones School. For this project, the center partnered with Blackwell’s Fayetteville-based firm. Blackwell is also a Distinguished Professor and head of the Fay Jones School’s Department of Architecture.

Planning and design for the Creative Corridor was funded by a 2011 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Construction on the first phase began over summer and should be completed early next year.

The Creative Corridor also has received other honors, including a 2014 Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design from the American Institute of Architects and a 2013 American Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. It also won a Charter Award in the Neighborhood, District and Corridor category in the 2013 Charter Awards, sponsored by the Congress for the New Urbanism, and it was short-listed for the 2013 World Architecture Festival Awards in the Future Projects – Masterplanning category.

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center was founded in 1995 as part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture. The center advances creative development in Arkansas through education, research and design solutions that enhance the physical environment. It has provided design and planning services to more than 45 communities and organizations across Arkansas, helping them to secure nearly $65 million in grant funding to enact suggested improvements.

In addition to revitalizing historic downtowns, the center addresses new challenges in affordable housing, urban sprawl, environmental planning, and management of regional growth or decline. The center’s professional staff members are nationally recognized for their expertise in urban and public-interest design, and their work has received more than 100 design awards.

AuthorMatthew Petty