Little Rock Look Back: Studio Gang announced as lead architect for re-envisioning of Arkansas Arts Center

On December 6, 2016, the Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) announced the selection of Studio Gang as design architect for its upcoming building project.

The five firms selected as finalists were Allied Works (Portland, Ore./New York), Shigeru Ban (New York/Paris/Tokyo, Japan), Studio Gang (Chicago/New York), Thomas Phifer (New York) and Snohetta (Oslo, Norway/New York/San Francisco).

Studio Gang was deemed the best fit for the project due to the firm’s elegant and smart approach to architecture, their understanding of the issues posed by the AAC’s current facility, their vision for the center as a cultural beacon for Central Arkansas and their commitment to sustainability and strength as urban planners.

Founded by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang is an award-winning architecture and urbanism practice based out of Chicago and New York. A recipient of the 2013 National Design Award, Jeanne Gang was also named the 2016 Archiitect of the Year by the Architectural Review and the firm was awarded the 2016 Architizer A+ award for Firm of the Year.

Studio Gang is recognized internationally for a design process that foregrounds the relationships between individuals, communities and environments. The firm has extensive knowledge in museum, theatre and artist studio spaces, with projects ranging from the Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Ill. to the Aqua Tower in Chicago to the expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Since their selection, Studio Gang has brought on a variety of other members of the consultant team including:

In February 2018, Studio Gang released their first designs for the project.

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CALS opens new Children’s Library and Learning Center today

CALS-Childrens-Library-and-Learning-Center-1-630x472Books, plants, vegetable soup, playwriting, and computers. Children will be able to learn more about each of these at the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Children’s Library and Learning Center, 4800 W. 10 St., when it opens today.

Set on a six-acre site, the $12 million, 30,000 square foot Children’s Library includes a computer lab with fourteen computers, teaching kitchen, large activity area, individual and group study rooms, theater, and community room in addition to a collection of more than 21,000 books, DVDs, and CDs.

In 2007, Little Rock voters approved a bond issue to provide funding for the Children’s Library.

Community input from library patrons as young as eleven years old helped CALS fine tune the concept of a vibrant, happy place for families with children to come for hands-on learning and enrichment. Activities and programs will be geared toward preschool, elementary, and middle school students and key subject areas will focus on the amenities of the site. The teaching kitchen is large enough to accommodate an entire class in learning about all facets of culinary arts, including nutrition, growing, cooking, and eating food.

In the 165-seat theater, children can experience all aspects of theater, including designing and building sets, writing plays, acting, and costume design. The state-of-the-art sound system, lighting, and projection screens will also be used for movies, concerts, and lectures.

The Children’s Library’s grounds are integral to the entire facility’s program. A greenhouse and teaching garden will help children learn about growing healthy foods as well as provide produce that will be used in the teaching kitchen programs. The grounds reflect the topography of Arkansas’s ecosystems, from the native hardwood trees in the highlands to vegetation of the wetland areas, which are both planted and original to the site. Walking paths offer families an attractive place for exercise while learning the names of the trees and plants, and an amphitheater has seating for outdoor programs or nature watching.

Homework and projects may be completed in the lab with fourteen computers or on laptops available for checkout using free Wi-Fi access. Early childhood computers and iPads with literacy apps allow small children to practice reading and computer skills. A limited number of computers and materials are available for adults who bring their children.

The Children’s Library will be open Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Architectural, engineering, construction, and landscaping services were provided by Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects; East-Harding Construction; Engineering Consultants, Inc.; TME, Inc.; McClelland Consulting Engineers, Inc.; Viridian; Ecological Design Group, Inc.; Grubbs, Hoskyn, Barton and Wyatt, Inc.; and Landscape Architecture, Inc. Additional funding for streets, parking, and walking paths came from the City of Little Rock and Pulaski County.

For more information contact 918-3086.