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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Visioning Rail Transit in Northwest Arkansas: Lifestyles and Ecologies

Visioning Rail Transit in Northwest Arkansas: Lifestyles and Ecologies was a multi-phase research project that explored opportunities for sustainable neighborhood development along an existing 32-mile rail line in Northwest Arkansas. Sponsored by the University of Arkansas School of Architecture and its Community Design Center (UACDC), the project was organized and directed by UACDC Director, Stephen Luoni. In 2006, William F. Conway, FAIA was retained as a Visiting Professor by the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. Conway led one of four design studios charged with making development proposals along the rail line and collaborated on remaining phases of the project.

2010 American Architecture Award The Chicago Athenaeum

2010 Great Places Planning Award Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), Places journal, and Metropolis magazine

2010 Citation Arkansas Chapter American Institute of Architects (AIA)

2009 Unique Contribution to Planning Award Arkansas Chapter of the American Planning Association

2008 Institute Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design American Institute of Architects (AIA)

2008 NCARB Prize
2007 AIA Education Honor Award

The research initiative began with a year-level design studio initiative in which students in three design studios from the University of Arkansas School of Architecture identified forces that could facilitate and/or inhibit the transformation of communities along the proposed rail line. This work was followed by an analysis of the physical sites affected by the proposed rail line and the description of metrics for neighborhood sustainable design as well as studies of the culture, socio-economic conditions and habitation patterns established by the resident population. At this stage in the project, teams employed Scenario Planning methods as a tool to identify core issues that would have to be addressed as teams designed proposals, not just for the present, but the future. Finally, interdisciplinary teams made proposals for development and occupation of selected sites along the rail line.

The work of studio students was the basis for the second phase of the project-the preparation of a 200-page, full-color book sponsored by the UACDC and funded by the National Endowment for the Art's (NEA) Access to Artistic Excellence Program. The NEA $25,000 publication grant provided 2,500 copies of the publication to be distributed to residents, corporate stakeholders and public officials that would be affected by development of the rail project. The book, with contributions by faculty, students and UACDC staff, is a first-of-it's-kind publication featuring graphic diagrams, plans, maps and designs that constitute a "how to" book for communities considering rail transit development.

In addition to William F. Conway FAIA, the project was led by Stephen D. Luoni, Director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center. The project team included Eric Kahn, Visiting Professor; Central Office of Architecture; University of Arkansas professors Tehar Massadi, Gregory Herman, and Aaron Gabriel; and Washington University at St. Louis.

MacArthur Park Master Plan

In 2007 C+SA was awarded a contract by the City of Little Rock to provide a master plan for the historic 33 acre MacArthur Park. A former confederate encampment and home to two regional museums, the park had gradually lost both its user base and surrounding resident population due to the severing effects of freeway construction and population out-migration.

A new model for park master plans, C+SA's approach leverages the economic, environmental, and social value of a renovated park as a catalyst for the development of immediate neighborhoods and surrounding districts. Identifying: 1) components within the park, 2) components along the park, and 3) components that extend the park, the plan knits together park renovation, neighborhood development and multi-modal transit patterns. The resulting urban network links the park to Little Rock's riverfront development, community nodes, active recreation facilities, schools, wildlife areas and other pedestrian amenities.

C+SA's Master Plan was completed in 2009. Construction on park renovations began in 2010.

2010 Institute Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design American Institute of Architects (AIA)

2009 Design Award Society of American Registered Architects (SARA)

2009 Gold Award Association of Licensed Architects (ALA)

2009 Urban Design Award Citation for Open Space, Boston Society of Architects (BSA/AIA), New York AIA

2009 Citation Arkansas Chapter American Institute of Architects (AIA)

2009 Achievement in Urban Design Award Arkansas Chapter of the American Planning Association

2009 Merit Award Minnesota American Society of Landscape Architects (MASLA)

Like waterfronts and transit stops, parks leverage value in urban areas. While much recent attention has been given to the signature mega-park, the value of the small-scale neighborhood park in reinventing the city has been overlooked. Once connecting neighborhoods of differing character, and sponsoring more than 75 residential structures along its edges, the historic MacArthur Park at the edge of downtown Little Rock is radically underutilized as an urban neighborhood asset. Severed from its neighborhoods along two edges by interstate construction in the 1960s, this moribund 40-acre municipal park is left with only 16 residential structures along its frontage. The planning concept optimizes the park's latent economic, environmental, and social potential through improvements to the district's neighborhood infrastructure, enhancing the delivery of ecological and urban services. This counters the greatest ongoing threat to MacArthur Park District's irreplaceable legacy-incompatible low-density, suburban-type development that fails to define street edges, and is inherently cynical of the city. The planning goal is to align the park's capacity to sponsor denser and higher quality mixed-use housing fabric throughout the district with improvements to the park grounds.

Led by William Conway FAIA, principal in Minneapolis based Conway+Schulte Architects and UMN School of Architecture Professor, the project team included: Stephen D. Luoni, University of Arkansas Community Design Center, George Wittenberg, University of Arkansas Little Rock Urban Studies Program, Tom Oslund, oslund.and.assoc., Chris Suneson, McClelland Consulting Engineers, and Jon Commers, Donjek.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

podcast interview on future of education

there is a nice write up and link on a podcast interview I did with Markku Allison from AIA. Markku and I have worked on a number of projects, including the follow up on the Integrated Practice Report originally published in 2006. In that report, I wrote on how education might change relative to BIM and Integrated Practice. In 2010 Markku did a series of interviews to check in with the authors to see what had changed and what their new ideas were for "what's next". The link to the whole interview is in this blog, but the write up catches most of the highlights of the "what's next" for architectural education as i see it.