Fort Smith Osteopathic School Picks Architect

Fort Smith Osteopathic School Picks Architect
Kyle Parker

The Arkansas Colleges of Health Education of Fort Smith recently named Risley & Associates of Fort Smith as the lead architect to build the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, a job estimated at $75 million.

Risley will partner with Cromwell Architects Engineers of Little Rock to complete the master plan for the school, according to a news release last week from ACHE.

The dirt work at the Chaffee Crossing site in Fort Smith is scheduled to start in September, and the construction work on the approximately 100,000-SF building should begin by the spring, the news release said.

“Ninety percent of the architectural and consulting work will remain local,” Tim Risley, principal at Risley, said in the news release.

“We’ve traveled with the College team to view two other similar-type campuses and we’ll be incorporating some of those best practices into the overall design,” Risley said in the release.

The school is expected to open in the fall of 2016.

Kyle Parker, president and CEO of ACHE, told Arkansas Business last week that ACHE plans to file for accreditation with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education by the end of July. And it anticipates filing paperwork in August with the Commission on Collegiate Accreditation for national accreditation.

At first ACHE planned to build a 60,000-SF building and furnish it for about $58 million, but those plans changed after it received a $14 million donation from an Arkansas family whom Parker didn’t name. ACHE then decided to expand the building and open it a year sooner than planned.

Parker said the expansion included adding a school for physician’s assistants inside the building, which drove up the cost of the project.

“The good news is we have the cash to do it,” he said.

The campus eventually will have four buildings, the news release said. “The master plan calls for the structures to be blended with the existing landscape, taking advantage of the natural views and topography,” the news release said.

Parker said ACHE decided to expand “because strategically it makes sense. We’re trying to fulfill the mission and that’s helping serve underserved areas throughout the state of Arkansas.”

He said the construction cost of the building will be about $20 million. ACHE also will spend millions on equipment, so the students will have a “world-class facility,” he said.

Once the school is fully operational, it is expected to serve about 600 students.

The school also will compete with an osteopathic medical school on the campus of Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. It also is on track to open in 2016.