Studio Gang Reveals Design of Arkansas Arts Center Expansion


New North Entry from Crescent Drive. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

New North Entry from Crescent Drive. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

Studio Gang has revealed the design of their $70 Million expansion of the Arkansas Arts Center, located in historic MacArthur Park in the state capital of Little Rock. Working with associate architects Polk Stanley Wilcox and landscape architecture firm SCAPE, Studio Gang has envisioned a sweeping roof structure that will connect the existing architecturally disparate museum pavilions into a cohesive whole.


Architectural Model. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

Architectural Model. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

The concept plan calls for a total of 127,000 square feet of new and renovated spaces, including a new second floor of gallery space; a parkside indoor/outdoor restaurant; expanded artists studios and educational facilities; a new research center and laboratory; a black box theater; and a flexible “Cultural Living Room” that can be adapted to be used as an extension of the galleries, an event space or a relaxed gathering space. A new north entrance will unveil the museum’s architectural history, allowing visitors to pass through the original 1937 Museum of Fine Arts façade.

“Because the Arkansas Arts Center is made up of eight additions to the 1937 Museum of Fine Arts, it’s a very complicated puzzle,” said Arkansas Arts Center, Executive Director Todd Herman. “We have the right architects and the right landscape architects to transform our institution into a destination for arts education and a hub that connects the programs of the AAC with newly designed outdoor spaces.”


North Entry Courtyard Revealing the Original 1937 Facade. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

North Entry Courtyard Revealing the Original 1937 Facade. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

New South Entry from MacArthur Park. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

New South Entry from MacArthur Park. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

The standout architecture feature of the proposed design is the organic, pleated roof connecting the new north entrance on the city side with the southern park-facing entrance to create a circulatory artery through the building.

“Starting from the inside out, the design clarifies the organization of the building and extends its presence into MacArthur Park and out to Crescent Lawn,” explains Studio Gang founder Jeanne Gang. “By doing so, the Center becomes a vibrant place for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts.”


Looking South in the New Center. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

Looking South in the New Center. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

New South Dining Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

New South Dining Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Studio Gang

Environmentally sustainable practices cover both indoor and outdoor spaces, from improved building mechanical systems to native, rainwater reclaiming landscape elements. Described by SCAPE founder Kate Orff as a “museum within the forest,” the landscape plan draws inspiration from Little Rock’s unique terrain features, including the banks of Fourche Creek, the bluffs of Emerald Park, and the agrarian landscapes of the Mississippi Delta.

“The site design will rejuvenate and expand the connection between the AAC to MacArthur Park, welcome and orient the Little Rock community to the grounds and weave native regional landscape forms into the existing park,” said Orff.

Groundbreaking on the project is scheduled for Fall 2019, with construction to be completed in early 2022.

News via Arkansas Arts Center

Studio Gang Selected to Design Arkansas Arts Center Expansion

Studio Gang has been announced as the design architect for the $55-65 million expansion of the Arkansas Arts Center (AAC), located in Little Rock, Arkansas, beating out finalists Allied Works, Shigeru Ban Architects, Thomas Phifer and Partners and Snøhetta.

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