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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.

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