Arkansas Arts Center Project Wins Best of Design Award


The $98.8 million Arkansas Arts Center expansion and renovation seeks to incorporate the building into its environment, MacArthur Park.
The $98.8 million Arkansas Arts Center expansion and renovation seeks to incorporate the building into its environment, MacArthur Park.
The design for the Arts Center makeover seeks to incorporate the building into MacArthur Park.
The design for the Arts Center makeover seeks to incorporate the building into MacArthur Park.
The design also will bring cohesion to the now maze-like configuration of the Arts Center, which houses a world-renowned collection of works on paper.
The design also will bring cohesion to the now maze-like configuration of the Arts Center, which houses a world-renowned collection of works on paper.
Most importantly, the Arts Center wants to be a kind of “cultural living room” that attracts people from throughout the community.
Most importantly, the Arts Center wants to be a kind of “cultural living room” that attracts people from throughout the community.
The design for the Arts Center makeover seeks to incorporate the building into MacArthur Park.
The design for the Arts Center makeover seeks to incorporate the building into MacArthur Park.

The Arkansas Arts Center's reimagined MacArthur Park building was named winner of the 2019 The Architect's Newspaper Best of Design Awards in the Unbuilt–Cultural category.

Chicago architecture and urban design firm Studio Gang designed the near-$100 million renovation and expansion of the Arkansas Arts Center. It's set to open in 2022.

The awards program honors exceptional architecture, design and building projects throughout Canada, Mexico and the United States. 

"Sensitivity and subtlety were at a premium," The Architect's Newspaper editors wrote of this year's awardees. "Winners were chosen for their contextual, tactical approaches rather than big, bombastic ideas."

The design includes:

  • A north courtyard entrance that features the preserved 1937 façade of the Museum of Fine Arts;

  • A south entrance that opens into MacArthur Park;

  • Glass-enclosed spaces at each entrance;

  • Fully equipped Museum School studios;

  • State-of-the-art main stage and black box theatre spaces to host Children’s Theatre programming, films and performing arts events;

  • A "Living Room" space for community and social gatherings, quiet reflection and everything in between, with views of downtown Little Rock; and

  • A full-service restaurant with indoor and shaded outdoor seating overlooking MacArthur Park.

The project also features a revitalized landscape with native and sustainable planting and water reclamation, designed by New York landscape architecture and urban design firm SCAPE. The idea is to better connect the building with its park surroundings.