Community Design Center Housing Project Wins 2021 U.S. Architecture Award


Rendered by U of A Community Design Center

A green street in the Markham Square Housing District project includes biological drains, which help treat stormwater runoff.

The AU’s project for a community design center, “Markham Square Housing District”, was recently recognized at the 2021 American Architecture Awards, the country’s highest public awards from a public institution for the arts, culture and culture. and non-commercial education, not affiliated with commerce. The project received an American Architecture Award in the Multi-Family Housing category.

The Community Design Center is a public design awareness program of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the U of A. Stephen Luoni, who heads the center, is Professor Emeritus and the Steven L. Anderson Chair of architecture and urban studies in the Fay Jones school.

Now in its 27th year, the American Architecture Awards program is hosted by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, which jointly present this prestigious annual program for design excellence and for the best and upcoming contributions to innovative contemporary American architecture. Over 120 buildings and city plans were recognized in one of 23 categories, celebrating the best new architecture designed and built by American architects and by international architects with offices in the United States.

The Markham Square Housing District project is a downtown regeneration proposal for a brownfield site, a former junkyard four blocks north of Conway’s main shopping street, redesigned as a new plaza surrounded of a mixed-use residential area. The vision for this new square features “wild” or natural landscapes that will help manage stormwater runoff and control flooding. It also offers multi-family housing with distinct facades – including two-story screened porches, balconies, terraces, patios, and courtyards – that line “green” streets incorporating stormwater treatment landscapes.

Housing types consist of affordable residential multi-family typologies – townhouses, bungalows, triplexes, courtyard dwellings, and townhouses – that have not been built since the dominance of suburban politics in the 1950s. dwellings, also referred to as missing intermediate dwellings, are compatible with single-family dwellings. These are affordable types (between 900 and 2,100 square feet) that are essential for revitalizing small and medium-sized downtown areas without the population shifts that accompany gentrification.

The Markham Square proposal connects the street and the plaza as one continuous civic space, with a design that combines pedestrian-friendly ‘slow streets’ with the plaza squares that showcase public art. The aim is to create an iconic downtown gathering place while introducing downtown housing options for which there is demand but no supply. Markham Square could become a prime downtown area for an underserved market that wants to live in downtown Arkansas.

“Like pre-WWII neighborhoods characterized by high levels of informality, neighborhood services and social capital, housing that serves future populations well will need to be designed at the neighborhood level rather than the individual project.” , said Luoni. “We are grateful that the American Architecture Awards have recognized the same beauty we see in making social, ecological and aesthetic systems work harmoniously to shape ordinary places.”

The “Markham Square Housing District” project was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts through its Art Works program and the City of Conway. This was a collaboration between staff at the Community Design Center, students in the Department of Architecture, Conway’s planning and transportation departments, city stakeholders, and the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission. .

The design team includes Luoni, Claude M. Terral III, Adriana Ramos-Hinojos, Tarun Kumar Potluri and Kacper Lastowiecki, all with the Community Design Center, as well as Fay Jones School interns Isabelle Troutman, Jala Jones, Molly Dillard , Bryan Murren, Mitchell Pickering, Urbano Soto, Bethany Stanford, Dayton Thurn and Garrison Weaver.

Additionally, Adohi Hall, completed in 2019 on the U of A campus, received an American Architecture Award in the Schools and Universities category. Adohi Hall is a 202,027 square foot sustainable university residence and living learning community, as well as the country’s first large-scale solid wood project. The innovative project was conceived and designed by a design collective led by Leers Weinzapfel Associates of Boston, Modus Studio of Fayetteville, Mackey Mitchell Architects of St. Louis and OLIN of Philadelphia. Nabholz Corporation of Rogers was the general contractor.

All the winning projects will be presented in the American Architecture Awards Directory, forthcoming by the Metropolitan Arts Press. This is the 16th American Architecture Prize from the Community Design Center.

More information on the 2021 American Architecture Awards is available on the Chicago Athenaeum website.

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