The Maumelle Environmental Center, part of CAW's project for the former Winrock Grass Farms, which will employ "strangemaking."
The design for Central Arkansas Water's
$3 million Trailhead Complex
on Highway 10, a project to reforest the former Winrock Grass Farm to help protect the Lake Maumelle watershed, has won a 2015 American Architecture Award
from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
CAW commissioned the University of Arkansas Community Design Center
to design the project, which it is calling an "art park," in association with Geosyntec Consultants and the Watershed Conservation Resource Center.
Here's how the Chicago Athenaeum describes the project:
The Trailhead Complex design is an exhibit landscape intended to create memorable experiences that reenergize visitors’ regard for environmental systems. The design of the components amplifies the educational functions through “strangemaking” [my emphasis] approaches that emphasize contrasts between the natural and the artificial. Strangemaking is used by artists and educators to encourage discovery by making something familiar strange.
A Visitors Hall is tucked within the forested hillside of a meadow-forest area, recreating the effect of a forest canopy and serving as a sheltered, multipurpose gateway between highland and lowland. The Outdoor Classroom is a modified amphitheater that navigates the 30-foot elevation drop to the Meadow Walkscape, a wildflower meadow that contains micro-lawns for lounging and picnicking, children’s play areas and public art displays.
The Lookout Tower marks the limits of the trailhead complex and is used as a landmark to guide visitors throughout the park. The parking garden is a low-impact development stormwater treatment landscape bordered by walls made from river cane and grounded with pervious surfaces of granulated rock, porous pavers and rain gardens.
CAW will conduct a capital campaign to pay for the art park, which will have a footprint of 10,000 square feet.
Geosyntec Consultants, an international firm whose Chicago office worked with CAW, helped determine the planting schedule for trees and grasses. A news release from the UACDC says Geosyntec has handwritten survey notes dating to the 1800s that list the tree species as bald cypress, cherry bark oak, other oaks and pines. Dogwood and persimmon will be planted as well. Planting of native grasses — little blue stem, big blue stem and sideoats grama — will provide bobwhite and migrant bird habitat; the state Game and Fish Commission is also involved in the project.
UACDC's design also won the 2013 Unbuilt Architecture and Design Award from the Boston Society of Architects.