From the Director: Arts Center Announces Design Architect

Photograph by Angela Jimenez Photography for Cooper-Hewitt
Studio Gang Architects. Photograph by Angela Jiminez. Courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Dear Patrons,

It is with great pride that I write to you today to announce the selection of Studio Gang as design architect for our upcoming building project.

Studio Gang is recognized internationally for a design process that foregrounds the relationships between individuals, communities and environments. The firm has extensive knowledge in museum, theatre and artist studio spaces, with projects ranging from the Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Ill. to the Aqua Tower in Chicago to the expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Founded by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang is an award-winning architecture and urbanism practice based out of Chicago and New York. A recipient of the 2013 National Design Award, Jeanne Gang was also named the 2016 Architect of the Year by the Architectural Review and the firm was awarded the 2016 Architizer A+ award for Firm of the Year.

Our selection committee felt Studio Gang was the best fit for the project, due to the firm’s elegant and smart approach to architecture, their understanding of the issues posed by the AAC’s current facility, their vision for the center as a cultural beacon for Central Arkansas and their commitment to sustainability and strength as urban planners. You can read more about Studio Gang here. An RFQ for a local architect to collaborate on the project will be issued later this month.

We had a number of highly qualified firms respond to our RFQ, and narrowing this impressive group down to the five finalists was extremely difficult. All five finalists were incredibly talented with international reputations and credentials, and we would have been well served by any one of them. You can read more about the selection process here.

This project is about more than just addressing the physical issues of our current building. It requires rethinking how the AAC fits into the downtown fabric. How can we best serve the community, and how do the AAC and MacArthur Park connect to other social and cultural nodes in downtown Little Rock? We want to do more than build, we want to transform the cultural experience.

As always, we are grateful to our members, who have supported and sustained the Arts Center as it has evolved over time. The Arts Center is a symbol of the importance that this community – and state – places on culture, arts education and quality of life, and we are on an exciting path to transform once again!

Todd Herman
Executive Director
Arkansas Arts Center