University of Arkansas Community Design Center - Framework Plan for a Riverine Commons and Institute, a river education center and offices
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Framework Plan for a Riverine Commons and Institute, a river education center and offices

University of Arkansas Community Design Center

Culture  /  Future
University of Arkansas Community Design Center

This project is championed by the co-founder of a local watershed conservation firm with several renowned ecological projects in Northwest Arkansas. In 2019, she approached the architects and urban designers at the Design Center with the idea of redesigning the site, a highly disturbed 98-acre wetland landscape co-owned and managed by the Watershed Conservation Resource Center and the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas as a commons under a permanent conservation easement. The intention is to redesign the site and develop the concept of a Framework Plan with a collaborative project team combining expertise in the ecological sciences including stream restoration, anthropology/archeology, architecture, and landscape architecture/horticulture.

The Plan combines restoration of riparian landscapes and floodplains with architecture and urban design to house a river education center and offices, a visitor interpretive center, a fruit and nut grove, demonstration food gardens, walking trails, passive recreation facilities supporting bird watching and canoeing, an inter-city water trail, and outdoor heritage exhibitions. River institute programming celebrates the heritage and riparian cultures of local Native American, African American, and Euro-American subsistence populations through display of reconstructed indigenous shelters and prototyped artifacts in the visitor interpretive center; and an adjacent polyculture fruit and nut grove which connects food gardens curating indigenous plant assemblages and growing strategies.

Recombinant design hybridizing heritage, architecture, and landscape floristics dramatizes a visitor experience that underwrites heightened ecological awareness. Accordingly, landscapes demonstrative of past anthropogenic uses of riparian corridors by indigenous cultures can shape the popular mindset and the public policy necessary to realize good river stewardship. This project was awarded an Arts Projects grant by the National Endowment for the Arts, a planning grant from the Walton Family Foundation, and a Small Project Design Grant by The American Institute of Architects. The Framework Plan for a Riverine Commons and Institute won a Citation in ARCHITECT magazine’s 70th Progressive Architecture Awards Program which recognizes trend-setting projects continentally.

Our team has formulated a public access Framework Plan for a riparian wetlands landscape which operates at the intersection of anthropology, ecology, and design in developing a lasting and robust riverine knowledge fund across space and time. Our conception of the river institute raises historical awareness of the various civilizing processes harnessing riparian landscapes across different eras of human occupation. This Framework Plan for a riverine institute remediates a former dirt quarry and hay field on a highly disturbed 98-acre wetland near downtown Fayetteville. The Plan innovates a Watershed Urbanism that recombines native landscape restoration with development of heritage landscapes and foodways recalling past local indigenous cultures’ management of riparian environments. Advocating that cities and natural systems can no longer be seen as mutually exclusive, the project team combined expertise in the ecological sciences including stream restoration, anthropology/archeology, architecture, and landscape architecture/horticulture. This meta-disciplinary organization is imperative as the greatest ongoing challenge in planning is design within human-dominated ecosystems. To reverse ecosystem depletion (arguably a problem as equally pressing as climate change), future design of the environment must deliver life-affirming ecological services in addition to traditional urban services.

“It has a strong environmental agenda, but it also includes a lot of public space. You rarely see [that combination] with these restorative projects.” Lawrence Scarpa FAIA, 2023 Progressive Architecture Awards Jury Member; “I appreciated everyone’s contributions to make such a great project!” Sandi Formica, Watershed Conservation Resource Center Co-Founder; “This is so incredible! Congratulations to all for this fantastic recognition!” Sarah Lewis, Watershed Conservation Resource Center Board

Credits

 Fayetteville
 Arkansas, USA
 Watershed Conservation Resource Center
 07/2027
 2415 mq
  12,500,000.00 $
 University of Arkansas Community Design Center
 University of Arkansas Community Design Center
 University of Arkansas Community Design Center

Curriculum

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center is an outreach center of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, and one of a few university-based teaching offices in the United States dedicated to delivering urban design work. Originated in 1995, the center advances creative development in Arkansas through design, research, and education solutions. Nationally recognized in public-interest design, the center has its own downtown facilities and 5-6 professional design/planning staff, some who also teach. Beyond the focus on urban projects, UACDC has developed eight place-making platforms to shape civic design and public policy at state and municipal levels. These interdisciplinary platforms include 'missing middle housing,' 'agricultural urbanism,' 'transit-oriented development,' 'context-sensitive street design,' 'watershed urbanism,' 'big box urbanism,' 'smart growth,' and 'low impact development,' vocabularies which are locally articulated but hold universal currency.

http://uacdc.uark.edu/


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