The University of Arkansas Community Design Center’s project Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario has won a 2015 Honor Award in the Analysis and Planning category from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The project seeks to build food sustainability by promoting local urban agriculture.

Food City Scenario is featured in the October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine and will be exhibited at the ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo in Chicago in November. This is the Community Design Center’s seventh ASLA Honor Award.

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.

The project is a collaborative plan and policy platform involving the 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, and the city of Fayetteville.

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.

Food City radicalizes planning discourse by centralizing the role of nutrition in creating healthy communities,” Luoni said. “Keeping in mind that cities and agriculture are energy systems, we can readily devise novel resilient and self-sufficient city forms that exponentially multiply ecological and economic capital. We are most pleased that all of the major design professions and national foundations focused on resilience have now embraced the important discussion surrounding agricultural urbanism.”

The Food City Scenario project previously received 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, 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.

AuthorLinda Komlos

The network of studios that conducted the research will expand from three to six locations in 2016.

By Caroline Massie

University of Arkansas Community Design Center "Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario Plan" is one of the projects outlined in the report's case studies.

Today, the AIA's Architects Foundation unveiled details about the past and future of its National Resilience Initiative (NRI), a network of university-based design studios that provide architectural services to communities and share best practices for preparing for natural disasters. The report, titled “In Flux: Community Design for Change, Chance and Opportunity,” outlines the work of the NRI’s three inaugural studios: the New Jersey Institute of Technology's Center for Resilient Design in Newark, New Jersey; the University of Arkansas Community Design Center at the Fay Jones School of Architecture in Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Mississippi State University's Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, located in Biloxi, Mississippi. Three additional studios, located in the west, the mid-Atlantic, and the upper Midwest regions of the U.S., will be announced in March 2016.

The report includes case studies of projects completed by the three studios, including the construction of houses for victims of Hurricane Katrina, the study of microgrids, and the development of an urban food production system. It debuted at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, which made the NRI, in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities, a Commitment to Action, a plan to tackle a global issue, in 2013. 

In addition to the expansion of the studio network, the NRI plans to access AIA's membership network for assistance in informing policy and building codes at national, state, and local levels to promote resilient design. It will also develop a curriculum for students and practicing architects to learn about resiliency.

Read the full report here.

Caroline Massie is an assistant editor of business, products, and technology at ARCHITECT. Follow her on Twitter at @caroline_massie.

AuthorLinda Komlos

A $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts will enable the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architects to assist the city of Texarkana, Texas, to develop a downtown art park.

The NEA awarded the city of Texarkana an Our Town grant to support Market Grounds, a cultural public space project focused on food, the arts and the historic district. The grant is funding the design development and construction documents phases of this project.

“We are very pleased to be a part of the city’s effort to revitalize what is an incredible downtown,” said Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center. “Though surrounded by prosperous suburban growth, Texarkana’s sleepy historic core contains outsized architectural treasures for a city of its size – a 1,400-seat, 1920s performance hall, a long-standing regional arts center, stately federal and municipal buildings, and highly livable downtown neighborhoods. The design team’s proposal draws on the city’s legacy in the visual and performing arts as well as a burgeoning local food scene to organize scattered investment in the downtown.”

In their preliminary designs for the project, designers with the Community Design Center and Blackwell’s firm propose to revitalize a downtown block in Texarkana by activating a space that connects city hall, the historic Regional Arts Center and the restored Perot Theatre. Currently a surface parking lot, this space will bring people together and prompt further investment in this downtown, which has lost much of its residential population over the last generation. The three civic buildings are elegant, pre-1920s neoclassical structures that do not face the site.

The design proposal consists of four key components: a farmers market, bandshell, amphitheater and art walk. The farmers market will serve a thriving local food economy and double as covered parking for theater employees and patrons in the evenings. The bandshell and amphitheater will reintroduce outdoor events to downtown and also house an art gallery and public restrooms underneath. The art walk will transform an existing alley into an illuminated and shaded walkway with freestanding display cases for artwork while also accommodating a splash pad. These four components extend the social life of the adjoining cultural venues of the city, which has a population of 37,400.

City officials are working in partnership with the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council and the Housing Authority. These groups will conduct a community engagement process over the next five months based on the preliminary designs provided by the project team.

Steve Luoni is a Distinguished Professor of architecture and the Steven L. Anderson Chair in Architecture and Urban Studies in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas. The Community Design Center, which he leads, is an outreach program of the Fay Jones School.

Marlon Blackwell, whose firm is based in Fayetteville, is a Distinguished Professor and the E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture for the school. This is the second Our Town grant awarded to a collaborative project between the Community Design Center and Blackwell’s firm, and it is the fourth Our Town grant the center has received in the program’s five-year history.

Through the Our Town grants program, the NEA provides funding for arts-based community development projects that contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform them into lively, beautiful and sustainable places with the arts at their core. There were 69 Our Town grants awarded this year totaling almost $5 million and supporting projects in 35 states plus Puerto Rico.


About the University of Arkansas Community Design Center: The University of Arkansas Community Design Center was founded in 1995 as part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. 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 50 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 and planning awards. For more information visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts: Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

AuthorLinda Komlos

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

TEXARKANA, TX- National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 69 Our Town awards totaling almost $5 million through the Our Town program’s fifth year of funding.  The City of Texarkana, Texas is one of those recommended organizations and will receive $100,000 to support the Texarkana Perot Theatre Restoration and Art Park Project. The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year and will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.

The Perot Theatre Restoration and Art Park project in Texarkana, Texas engages leading design experts in development of a master plan for the downtown Texarkana Arts and Historic District. The master plan features adaptive re-use of a downtown block connecting the restored Perot Theater and the historic Regional Arts Building with an open air farmers market, outdoor stage, public art exhibition and green space. A public space master plan incorporating the surrounding blocks offers an excellent opportunity to improve livability and safety in the heart of Texarkana’s Arts District.

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center will assist the City to transform the Square from parking lot to productive, sustainable community asset, a fresh expression of the region’s cultural heritage. The City of Texarkana, Texas will work with the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council (TRAHC) and UACDC, with internationally recognized Architect Marlon Blackwell, to ensure the artistic merit and artistic excellence of this project.

The Our Town grant program supports creative place-making projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Since the program’s inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

“The City of Texarkana Texas’ demonstrates the best in creative community development and whose work will have a valuable impact on its community,” said Chairman Chu. “Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike.”

Director of Planning and Community Development, David Orr, is pleased to receive the grant.

“This funding will help propel this project forward and continue to generate revitalization in downtown Texarkana,” Orr said. “We have a huge opportunity to create yet another reason for people to engage in our downtown area.”

Executive Director of TRAHC, Brian Goesl, also looks forward to what the project will do for downtown Texarkana.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to have the funds to create the architectural plans for the revitalization of the area between the Perot Theatre and the Regional Arts Center,” Goesl said. “TRAHC is very pleased to be a partner with the City of Texarkana, Texas and the NEA in helping to make this a reality for our community.”

AuthorMatthew Petty