The old High School building in Mena, Arkansas sits at the base of Rich Mountain State Park along Mena Street (Mena’s “Main Street"). Long vacant after the school programs moved to the new campus across town, a community group and private developer engaged AMR to create a vision for this building’s potential. The two-story building is planned to house an business incubator / innovation hub on the ground floor, along with community event space and a new home for the city library. A new construction open-air addition is envisioned to create a large gathering space and literal “basecamp” for tourists as well as locals, merging the energy of the businesses along Mena Street with the State Park tourism and outdoor activities. The second floor comprises 14 residential units, which will provide a modern, “urban” housing type not currently available in the area.
Overview from Artspace.org: Artspace Windgate Campus grew out of a strategic effort to benefit community led by the Windgate Foundation with key support from civic leaders, arts organizations, local artists, and creative businesses. Due to strong local momentum for the arts as a strategy for community development, Artspace worked with the Little Rock and North Little Rock communities beginning in 2018 to explore the feasibility of an Artspace live/work project. Located in the historic East End, and through its proximity to the Clinton Presidential Center, Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts and the future home of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Artspace Windgate Campus will be another anchor for Little Rock’s expanding arts and culture scene. The new construction development features a four-story building that provides 60 units of affordable live/work style housing designed for artists and their families, ten working artist-in-residence studios, ample event and gallery space including a large outdoor courtyard, and approximately 16,000 square feet of commercial space to provide space for local arts and cultural organizations. To designate Artspace Windgate Campus as a destination for the arts, public art components will include murals situated on the building’s exterior spaces and sculptural components in the outdoor courtyard along College Street. The exterior design reflects the level of artistic activity occurring within the multifamily affordable housing units and commercial studios; and a rooftop deck provides welcoming views of downtown. The units are one-, two-, and three-bedrooms, addressing the need for affordable housing for individual artists and their households. Artspace Windgate Campus will bridge geographic and cultural creative communities through a critical mass of residential units and commercial space that prioritizes a diverse creative workforce, and provides a sustainable home for a broad creative sector.
An addition and renovation to the Justice Building on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds.
The ASC Creative Construction Zone is a renovation project for The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas at their main facility at 701 S. Main Street within their larger ASC ARTx3 campus. Overview from The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas: The Creative Construction Zone is ASC’s space for kids in grades kindergarten through second, where they are encouraged to explore, learn, and tinker. Young visitors can build their creativity with the Imagination Big Blue Blocks. They can explore the interactive kid-friendly features by artist Jonathan Wright, and use puzzles, games, and toys. Kids can get cozy in the Eugenia Cook Library nook with a book from a collection of fun and educational arts and science books. A landscape mural by John Kushmaul, abstractly depicting the Port of Pine Bluff and railroad yard at the Arkansas River, adorns the space. This large, vibrant space is also perfect for hosting events and engaging our community through different programming. The room includes a large kitchen, ideal for cooking classes, receptions, and event rentals. Kitchen amenities include double ovens, plenty of refrigerator and freezer space, a dishwasher, and a sleek five-burner stove. The space also extends outdoors with a convenient patio, which includes picnic seating, retractable canopy shades, verdant landscaping, and a large, colorful guitar-shaped sculpture Rhythm created by University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff faculty and students. A large, roll-up garage-style door blurs the line between indoors and out.
AMR Architects had the opportunity to participate in the 30-Crossing Envision design competition held by StudioMain in Little Rock, Arkansas. The competition was a study into the possibilities for the 20 acres of land left behind by the removal an interstate exit in the middle of downtown Little Rock. Designs were to consider connections to all the cultural, business, and residential areas adjacent to the site. They should also take care to focus on the larger connections to the Arkansas River Trail, downtown pedestrian infrastructure, adjacency to the Arkansas River, and how the space can improve the experience of traveling on Interstate-30 through Little Rock. The designs were to account for real-world urban issues such as traffic, parking, homelessness, trash, and multi-modal transportation. Entries were judged on the flexibility of the design to accommodate multiple uses including, but not limited to: a quiet restful space, an active sports space, an entertainment venue, and a place for all diverse citizens of the city. ARKANSAS RIVERWALK: In terms of dollars per-acre, mixed-use, downtown parcels bring in, on average, five times the property tax and sales tax revenue as conventional single-use commercial establishments on the outskirts of town. Downtowns are highly efficient generators of tax revenue, and the Arkansas Riverwalk addresses the vital need to develop the “Envision” land into mixed use properties that generate substantial tax revenue for the city. The Arkansas Riverwalk pulls the vitality of the river into the center of the district via a canal lined with dynamic shops, restaurants, and a mix of affordable and market-rate housing, and senior living solutions. This approach demonstrates the ability to incorporate both a public amenity and tourism draw with revenue generating development to create a dense, exciting, and iconic city center. The existing expanse of park space in the downtown is already an underutilized feature that could benefit from the increased revenue to enhance and maintain its beauty. This existing park space does lack shaded space for fitness and fields for soccer and other recreation; however, and the underpass provides this function for those looking for respite from the heat.
The Argenta Parklets converted 8 parallel parking spaces into activated public space along Main Street. The project was made possible through a partnership between Rock Region Metro, the City of North Little Rock, the Argenta Downtown Council, and local businesses.
ASC ARTSx3 is the culmination of efforts by The Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas to expand community and art space in downtown Pine Bluff. By acquiring two buildings next door, they were able to expand their program three-fold (hence the "x3"), to provide additional services and cater to more art disciplines. When the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) first looked at expanding next door, they looked at it through an ambitious lens of how to honor the past legacy of Downtown Pine Bluff, the history of the buildings, and the origin story of their own organization while still addressing and adapting to the current needs of their city, community, and patrons. Downtown Pine Bluff, Arkansas was once one of the three largest concentrations of African-American owned businesses in the entire United States. In its heyday, the ASC ARTSx3 was a firehouse, dairy creamery, and auto parts store. It was this synergy that the design team used as a primary focus in the overall design and concept of the project. Phase I of this project, the northern half of the building, was renovated to be the new home for ARTSpace on Main. This portion houses art galleries, multi-purpose spaces, costume storage and a multi-use shop for set building for the ASC Theater. The existing commercial storefronts were replaced with bi-fold garage doors similar to the original firehouse doors. On both the first and second floor, large garage doors divide each space to allow the building to use each space individually or all in unison for one large event. The series of glass garage doors also allows for the visual connection from Main Street all the way through the building to the ARTS Yard behind it, which can act independently or as an extension of the program for both the ARTSpace and the ART Works buildings. ART Works on Main, Phase 2 and the southern portion of the building, furthers ASC’s mission of community engagement, but in a different vehicle. This building was still an active auto parts shop when phase one, ARTSpace, began construction. The idea with ART Works was to create a multi-use flexible black box theater to complement ACS’s established more traditional theater. The building is connected both internally and externally to ARTSpace on Main allowing them to work together and reconfigure as needed. The owner also really wants to encourage artists in residency and new apartments in Downtown Pine Bluff, so there are five dwelling units and five leasable artist studios along with shared common area for residence, artists, and performers to bond, collaborate, and build community. The biggest achievement of the ASC ARTS x3 project is the success of taking two underutilized historic buildings, carving into them, weaving them together, and turning them into mixed-use spaces that allow downtown to have a 24/7 community engagement. This constitutes a fundamental shift in the feeling of community ownership, pride, and a sense of progress.
Ron Robinson Theater is a multi-purpose event venue with seating for up to 315. It is designed for various performance types including films, concerts, plays, readings and lectures. Located in the Arcade Building across from the River Market, the building is made up of three-stories and 60,000 SF. The facility includes office spaces, classrooms and distance learning space for the Clinton School of Public Service as well as retail space and Cache Restaurant & Bar on the ground floor.
13 years after AMR designed the 1996 Museum of Discovery, the facility was in need of a face-lift as well as additional space. Thanks to funding from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the redesign, renovation, and addition of the museum was made possible. Phase I involved the relocation of staff offices, while Phase II renovated existing exhibit areas and transformed the loading dock into a new street-front entrance and gift shop. The Helix Wave, a kinetic sculpture designed by Reuben Heyday Margolin, was commissioned and now floats above The Great Hall.
A part of the Central Arkansas Library System, the branch library is a 12,700 SF facility that was completed in Fall 2004. AMR renovated the interiors in 2017 and added an addition with a multi-purpose room including a demonstration kitchen and additional private study rooms with after hours access.
P.A.R.K. is a private program helping high school students stay in school and also help earn them college scholarships. In the Learning Center, 150 students gather each day after schoolto complete homework and studying. A raquetball court, gym and library are housed on the lower level of the facility, providing productive activites for when students finish their studies. Remodeling and refurnishing of the facility was made possible by funding from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
In the context of location, the building is designed to celebrate the horizon. Clad in horizontally-corrugated metal, the facility sits in a grassy field just the way a piece of farm equipment would. Bands of horizontal windows offer continuous views into the field and beyond. The spine of the complex is formed by a circulation concourse of cast-concrete columns, steel beams and a laminated-timber roof. Stacked over the locker rooms, the center's excercise room situates itself between the gymnasium and pool, giving views into both areas and stretching outside to the energetic scenery. A one-story arrangement was given for both office and community room with the release of natural light passing over and presenting a line of sight into the spine. By separating the two rooms, the wall of the spine opens up and forms the outdoor courtyard. Between steel girts, composite panels span 14-feet high to providing the building a solid backing and an efficient supply of energy, insulation and economic value.
AMR’s objective for the library was to create a warm, friendly facility that accommodates the community's traditions and tell the story of the town’s unique history. In the heart of timber country, the library uses wood as a structural material and as a finish material where protected from the weather. The four-posted columns of the east-facing porch recall the porch of the Rose Inn, one of Crossett's lost, beloved structures that was demolished in earlier years. The hexagonal periodical room projects from the front of the building and ends at the east porch entry. Morning regulars from inside the periodical room can look out to passing by patrons with a direct view down the porch. Custom lamps tell Crossett's story by illuminating historical photographs onto custom shades. To identify areas of interest, library collections are displayed circularly around the main reading room and signs painted onto the wall.
The River Market covers one-half of a city block in its namesake district in downtown Little Rock. Once an abandoned, desolate neighborhood, the River Market has been a catalyst for development of the now flourishing district which includes museums, restaurants, hotels, housing and commercial businesses. Ottenheimer Market Hall, a year-round indoor market, encompasses 10,000 SF and features a 40 foot vaulted roof. Just outside, two covered pavilions covering 15,000 SF provide the farmers market area with shade and shelter. Since its opening, AMR has completed renovations on several spaces including market hall interiors, the second floor offices and an expansion of fixtures for the restroom. AMR also has helped assist many vendors renovate spaces and design signage in order to improve business.
The design of the exterior indentations are a response to the small, older homes bordering three sides of the library and serve as reading niches on the interior. Low, deep eaves protect windows from direct sunlight, reduce the building scale and add texture and detail in a neighborly setting. Structural laminated pine timber and decking are exposed with custom designed steel connectors and the overall use of wood on the building adds warmth and friendliness to and already comfortable atmosphere. Library collections are arranged around the main service desk in a semicircular layout allowing for minimal staff to be needed during low traffic times.
The fitness and aquatic center includes an indoor pool, gymnasium, running track, aerobics space, weight training areas and community room. Architecturally, the buildings recall early park structures using local stone and timber construction. AMR returned in 2005 to renovate and expand the center's offering of cardio and fitness equipment. The amount of cardio equipment was doubled and new areas were designed for registration, lounging and dining. A new track was installed and flooring for the second floor weight room was replaced with rubber sports flooring. All new weight machines and dumbbells were installed and locker rooms were fully renovated.