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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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.

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