Walton Family Foundation announces 3 new NWA Design Excellence Projects

Northwest Arkansas News

The Commons concept arts (Courtesy: Walton Family Foundation)

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Walton Family Foundation on Monday announced three new Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program projects: a redesign of The Jones Center’s 52-acre campus in Springdale, a reimagined network of alleys in Downtown Rogers, and The Commons, a plaza in the Quilt of Parks and an extension of Bentonville Square.

“The Design Excellence Program champions a diverse mix of public buildings and spaces that connect communities and help celebrate the region’s unique culture,” said Karen Minkel, Home Region Program director. “These new projects will build on that momentum by supporting inclusive gathering places, neighborhood-scale experiences and vibrant outdoor destinations.”

According to The Walton Family Foundation, the program will provide grants for:

  • Enhancement of The Jones Center’s 52-acre campus: The Jones Trust will redesign its campus as a regional destination and create stronger physical connections to downtown Springdale and Luther George Park. The space will include park-like green spaces, inviting bike paths, infrastructure improvements and enhanced recreational amenities to serve diverse communities in an accessible and welcoming environment.
  • Reimagined network of alleys in Downtown RogersThe City of Rogers will transform five blocks of alleyways into an arts-focused neighborhood destination and pedestrian network. Located at the heart of many downtown destinations, the project will create more social space, spur economic development and build on the unique historic fabric of the city’s downtown.
  • Design of The Commons in the Quilt of ParksThe City of Bentonville will complete the design for The Commons, a plaza in the Quilt of Parks and an extension of Bentonville Square. The plaza will include recreation spaces and areas for public events, outdoor dining and community gathering.

Together with the new projects, the Design Excellence Program now supports 15 public spaces across Northwest Arkansas’ five largest downtowns.

The foundation released an assessment on Monday outlining how the program “promotes impactful design, sustainability, economic vibrancy and access to the arts, all while spurring more than $100 million in community support.”

Challenges identified by the assessment include:

  • Needs Assessment
    • A mismatch between user needs and decisions for design and programming
  • Demographic Diversity
    • A lack of representation of non-White, lower-income, and less educated users
  • Site Context
    • A set of connectivity challenges facing site-scale projects

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