2012 Arkansas Construction Hall of Fame: Joe Stanley, AIA

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Apr. 30, 2012 12:00 am  

Joe Stanley, AIA

The experience of growing up on a farm near Augusta, in Woodruff County – as the child of parents whose passions for nature, the land, education and compassion for others made an indelible impression on him – has guided and informed Joe Stanley’s personal and professional life.

As he will say, “On a farm you never stop working hard or learning.” Stanley also absorbed his father’s philosophy of “under-promise and over-deliver” – a mantra that has stayed with him since he left the farm 50 years ago.

These early influences, along with his admiration of an aunt who loved architecture and mentored him in this direction, set Stanley on a path to pursue a career in architecture by the age of 12, a decision that meant giving up on his other dream job – to be a staff writer for Sports Illustrated magazine.

From Augusta, Stanley went on to graduate from the University of Arkansas’ School of Architecture in 1969, serve a two-year stint in the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, and begin his architecture career at Roy P. Harrover Architects in Memphis. At the Harrover office he met Tommy Polk, also a native Arkansan, and in 1977 the two moved to Little Rock and founded Polk Shannon Stanley Architects along with Jeff Shannon (now Dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas).

The trio’s goal was to design, and get built, work of an honest and timeless quality that would compare favorably with the best architecture being produced anywhere in the country. That is still what Stanley is striving to do.

From its founding, and after merging with the Wilcox Group Architects, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects now has almost 50 full- and part-time employees in offices in Little Rock and Fayetteville. Stanley is the firm’s CEO.

In 35 years of practice in Arkansas, Stanley has personally managed the design and construction administration of more than 300 commissions. He had major involvement on the UA Bell Engineering Center and the First National Bank on The Square, both in Fayetteville. In Little Rock, Joe was responsible for managing Pavilion in the Park, Adolphine Fletcher Terry Library, the Main Library (formerly the Fones Building), the Chamber Center, Acxiom River Market Tower and Heifer International World Headquarters.

From 1999 until the project’s completion in 2004, Joe was the local managing architect for the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, collaborating with the national design firm of Ennead (formerly Polshek Partnership Architects) and leading the local team composed of WER Architects and Woods Caradine Architects.

Following the library completion, Stanley then served for five years as the overall coordinating /managing architect for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Major Project and Campus Expansion – a combination of 10 buildings totaling more than 1.1 million SF, site development of over 20 acres, a 1,000-car parking deck and new central energy plant – that required integration of all the new facilities with the ongoing operations of four separate state institutions. This complex, at a total cost over $200 million, is the largest public works project in Arkansas since the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System construction. Polk Stanley Wilcox was lead architect, along with HKS of Dallas and local firms, WER and Woods Caradine.

Most recently, Stanley has worked or is working on the Arkansas Studies Institute and the Central Arkansas Library System Children’s Library, the new residential and Student Life Center on the Arkansas School for Math, Sciences and the Arts campus in Hot Springs and two projects on the UA campus in Fayetteville: the Football Operations Center (with the national design firm, Populous) and the new Fay Jones School of Architecture at Vol Walker Hall (with Marlon Blackwell Architect).

The designs of Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects have been recognized locally, regionally, nationally and internationally for excellence, garnering over 80 awards from the profession. For the past three years PSW has been a national Top 100 design firm in Architect magazine’s annual “Architect 50.”

An important focus for Stanley now is his involvement in the StudioMain group – an initiative aimed directly at enhancing the collaboration of designers and builders to create and construct a sustainable and higher quality built environment in central Arkansas. He sees this as coming “full circle” from his farming roots, with a commitment to see projects as “living buildings” that challenge the community, and the professions, to positively impact people’s experiences where they live, work, play, learn, worship and heal.

Stanley and his wife of 44 years, Becky, have a daughter, Laura, who is an intern-architect with PSW. Laura and her husband Marc recently welcomed their first child, a son named Wylie.



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