First of its kind design competition visioned Nolen’s Gateway to city
LITTLE ROCK – The winners of the Envision Little Rock design competition were announced Friday at City Hall during the centennial celebration of John Nolen’s master park plan. Leaders from The City of Little Rock, Keep Little Rock Beautiful, StudioMAIN, Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects participated in the event.
The first of its kind design competition, Envision Little Rock invited architects and planners to envision an iconic Gateway for Little Rock. This Gateway is centered on the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Interstate 30 and is an ode to a Gateway envisioned by John Nolen, one of the nation’s premier landscape architects and city planners in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, who created a park master plan for Little Rock in 1913.
“John Nolen’s master plan for the Little Rock park system was imaginative and contemporary,” said Truman Tolefree, Director of Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department. “Today we celebrate 100 years and counting of Mr. Nolen’s vision.”
Nolen’s Report on a Park System for Little Rock Arkansas (available for download here) offers a unique look at Little Rock existing parks system in 1913 and presents a vision for the future. Nolen’s vision can be seen in the Arkansas River Trail, Fourche Creek land acquisition, Main Street low impact development, Riverfront Park, John Barrow and Wright Avenue Streetscapes, and many other projects that are part of Little Rock current day development.
The Envision Little Rock design competition, which is planned to be an ongoing annual or semi-annual endeavor, sought to bring at least part of Nolen’s vision to the 21st Century.
“Both professional and student entrants created unique designs for the intersection of Capital Avenue and Interstate 30,” said Bob Callans, a Little Rock landscape architect and historian of John Nolen who helped establish Envision Little Rock. “Many incorporated the existing Hangar Hill neighborhood, Clinton Library and Heifer International as well as imagined grand public structures, transportation depots and parks. All entrants should be commended for their creativity.”
Winners of the Envision Little Rock design competition will receive a combined $3750 in awards determined by public voting as well as a professional jury. The winners are:
Public Vote “Establishing Connections” – Chris Sheppard’s Urban Greenway (found here)
Public Vote “Envisioning an Icon” – John Krug’s Gateway Twin Towers (found here)
Public Vote “Wildcard” – Maury Mitchel’s Agri-City (found here and here)
Overall Student Winner – Mary Nell Patterson’s Silver Spire (found here and here)
Jurors said, “The 250-foot spire itself provides a stunning and modern counterpoint to the State Capitol,” and “The silver ribbon that unravels leading visitors on a tour of main attractions in Little Rock would be a magnificent navigation system for tourists.”
Overall Professional Winner – John Krug’s Gateway Twin Towers (found here)
Jurors said, “The Gateway design is relatively simple, but elegant,” and “The phased redevelopment of the east side of the freeway, well connected by pedestrian ways, public transit and roadways, is well thought out and completely within reason. The final product is significant.”
“We are excited to see that the Envision Little Rock design competition sparked so much interest and creativity within the community,” said Jordan Rogers with StudioMAIN. “All the submissions really show what can become a reality for Little Rock.”