New Children's Library To Encourage Experiential Learning

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 12:00 am  

“The things we’ve learned with green buildings is when you give people more natural light, more of a view and clean, fresh air, productivity goes up, absenteeism falls and people want to be there,” Rowland said. “It’s the same in a school environment as a work environment.”

Notably, the side that faces the parking lot is single story and unassuming, and the full height and style of the building is only visible from the rear, where children will be roaming the grounds.

“The idea was that kids use the other side of the building more than this side,” he said. “That’s why there’s more emphasis to the north. It’s away from cars, away from adults.”

Rowland said he wanted to encourage walking around outside the building.

“We’ve really looked at creating children’s pedestrian zones, learning zones, vehicle zones,” Rowland said. “We really want to separate the car from the person and the child walking.”

The grounds themselves are made up of features intended to represent various topographical areas in Arkansas. A drainage creek that meanders under the Interstate has been repurposed to create “wetlands” on the library’s north side.

“The 6-acre site has walking paths and bridges so that families can really come out here and enjoy themselves,” said Sarah McClure, who will manage the library. “Kids can run around and play, and the features of our landscaping are educational opportunities for children and families.”

It will take several years for some of the landscaping elements to grow, Rowland said.

The end result satisfied CALS’ hopes for its newest facility.

“This building doesn’t look like anything else we have,” said Susan Gele, assistant director for public relations at CALS. “The colors inside are so vibrant and child-friendly that when you come in as an adult, it’s hard to be sad here. It’s hard to be distressed. It’s a hopeful, happy place.”

Underserved Neighborhoods

Rowland said the library’s location between I-630 and 12th Street was chosen for its proximity to underserved, low-income neighborhoods and because the site was mostly undeveloped. Some homes on the parcel — all either rentals or abandoned — had to be torn down, but otherwise very little infrastructure was disturbed.



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