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    New Water/Botanical Garden for the State of Arkansas - University of Arkansas Community Design Center

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    New Water/Botanical Garden for the State of Arkansas - University of Arkansas Community Design Center

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    New Water/Botanical Garden for the State of Arkansas - University of Arkansas Community Design Center

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    New Water/Botanical Garden for the State of Arkansas - University of Arkansas Community Design Center

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2019 WAN Awards: A New Water/Botanical Garden for the State of Arkansas - University of Arkansas Community Design Center

Alison Carter
11 Jun 2019

A New Water/Botanical Garden for the State of Arkansas - University of Arkansas Community Design Center - is an entry in the Future Project - Mixed Use category at the 2019 World Architecture News Awards.

This study revives the forgotten vision for a national water/botanical garden by renowned mid-century architect Edward Durell Stone, a native Arkansan. Stone designed a monumental cliffside park to accompany the Greers Ferry Dam in 1962. The dam was part of a reservoir-building program to generate hydroelectric power in tandem with economic development and new town development for this rural area. Influenced by the hydraulics in Roman and Persian water gardens, Stone’s masterful vision deployed late modernist tropes combining monumentality and glamour across the 269-acre (109 ha) site. Despite the site’s 240-foot (73 m) drop into a ravine, Stone’s schematic vocabulary left gaps on matters of visitor passage over the terrain, place-making with native planting, and water as an experiential medium. Nor did Stone’s design account for ecological fit or visitor-centered approaches to support park operations. The updated plan introduces a robust botanical function—the collection and display of plants in what will be Arkansas’ only formal botanical garden. Architectural structures, botanical displays, and walkways engage and educate the visitor about plant guilds and their ecosystems in non-traditional ways. The updated plan shifts Stone’s overreliance on Roman and Persian garden imagery toward a more place-based expression of each of the garden’s four territories: Formal Ridge Garden, Ravine Passage, Lower Formal Garden, Circular Terminus. Essentially a heritage preservation project despite not having been built, the updated plan shows that preservation can be an innovative platform for reframing and refreshing the contemporary.

The World Architecture News Awards showcase the best international design in both current and future projects. Entries for the 2019 Awards are now open - for further information and to submit your entry please click here.

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