Archive for the “community projects” Category

How do we address the car, parking garages and density?

While traveling last year to cities in Ohio, Texas, California and Florida, we photographed parking garages and noticed the desire to build these structures with an aesthetic that hid the car and presented opportunities for density and alternative uses besides a car park.

Goodale Parking Garage

In Columbus, Ohio, the Goodale Street Parking Facility is about two blocks from High Street and across from the convention center. It was built at no cost to taxpayers and the income generated by the garage will pay the costs associated with the construction. This parking garage cost $18 million and it provides 8 floors of parking with 800 spaces.  ($22,500 for each parking space) This is public parking which replaced a surface lot that previously accommodate 192 cars.

Each floor of the garage near the elevators features an “Art Park” creation – an art piece from local artists or Columbus art students which help customers remember which floor they left their cars.

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A spirit of thankfulness


In the spirit of thankfulness, we wanted to take time to reflect on the role of those organizations that have inspired us. Oftentimes, we back up our inspiration with support – from pro bono design assistance to leadership advice and financial support.  We look forward to 2015 with great enthusiasm.  In 2014, we supported some great organizations:

University of Arkansas at Little Rock – Institute of Government

University of Arkansas at Little Rock – Donaghey Scholars


The Arkansas Innovation Hub

Architecture + Design Network

Studio 804, University of Kansas

Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance


Our House, Inc.

Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas





The Children's Center – Our House

Today was a great day to visit the Our House Children’s Center building – lots of color on the walls and sailing towards the opening date of June 7!  This place is a place to celebrate kids, a place where they can meet a friend, not worry about a last meal, play, draw, study, learn, dance, celebrate achievements, confide in others, take a shower, receive shoes, participate in speech therapy…we can hardly wait to see kids in this building.

Multi-Use Room

Corridor for little ones

Corridor for Little Learners


Stairway looking at the big old VA hospital on the hill

stair with different size risers

second floor corridor

Exterior of stair and Multi-Use space

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Our House and homeless children

Arkansas ranks 31st among the states in child homelessness, 43rd with risk for child homelessness and 49th for child wellbeing for health problems of children below poverty level.

  • Children who are homeless are 4x more likely to show delayed development
  • 2x as likely to have learning disabilities as non-homeless children
  • By age of 12, 83% have been exposed to at least 1 serious violent event
  • Almost 25% have witnessed acts of violence within their families
  • Are sick 4x more than other children and have 5x more gastrointestinal problems
  • Have high rates of obesity due to nutritional deficiencies
  • Have 3x the rate of emotional and behavioral problems compared to non-homeless children

What do homeless children worry about?

  • They worry about not having a place to live
  • They worry that they will not have a place to sleep
  • They worry that something bad will happen to their family and that their family will have to be separated.
  • They worry that they will be hungry again
  • They worry about whether or not they will ever be able to have a friend

So, we are glad to be a part of the team with Our House, Inc. and Nabholz Construction Services to build a new 20,000 square foot Children’s Center – just for children. A place where kids can be kids, a place to learn and grow and a place to help break the cycle of homelessness.

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Building a House of Hope

Birch Tree Communities is dedicated to helping make a full life in the community possible for those recovering from mental illness.  Birch Tree’s Hope House 16-bed crisis unit in Benton, Arkansas had to balance necessary treatment, supervision and security needs with a healing and nurturing residential environment – all within a limited budget.  From its gabled roofs to the central courtyard, the 8,900 square foot, one -story Hope House feels decidedly non-institutional.  Elements such as garden and seating spaces, sheltered with a perforated metal privacy fence, were incorporated to offer access to outdoor spaces for therapy and for resting.  An open floor plan with views to outdoors and sight lines to the nurse’s station allows members to move comfortably through the building to shared gym and activity spaces and a seating porch, providing a sense of freedom and autonomy without sacrificing security.  A place where folks in their time of need can find serenity, comfort and above all, hope.

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Dempsey Bakery

Little Rock’s Dempsey Bakery featured in Travel and Leisure as a favorite place in Arkansas to stop for gluten-free goodies. Located in a renovated 1950’s car showroom, our client, Paula Dempsey envisioned with us the type of space for customers to visit and be excited about – and for some, it’ll be their first time in a bakery. Check out the bakery at  Thanks to Steven Otis and Nancy Nolan for capturing these photos.

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Homeless Shelter Director: "There's Never Enough Space" Our House in Little Rock, AR

NBC’s Ann Curry talks to Our House residents.

No Place Like Home

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

NBC’s Ann Curry talks to Our House Executive Director Georgia Mjartan.

There’s  Never Enough Space

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Milam Library Addition

We are currently working with the Central Arkansas Library System on an addition to the Milam Library in Perrville, Arkansas. We have included a few computer renderings of the design that is in development.  This library acts as a community center and will have additional meeting rooms, a reading garden, more space for books, a reading room, a larger children’s library section in the existing library, a genealogy research center and more staff office space.

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Santiago Calatrava, Dr. Gail Thomas and Dallas build a bridge

Dr. Gail Thomas, President and CEO of the Trinity Trust Foundation in Dallas, will speak at the Clinton School of Public Service on Tuesday, February 15th at 6:00pm.  One of the features of the talk will be on the cable-stayed bridge designed by the internationally acclaimed architect and engineer, Santiago Calatrava.  Free and open to the public.   Reserve a seat at [email protected]

The replacement for the Broadway Bridge could be a creative piece, so long as we allow creativity not just in design but also in financing. There’s a way….Come hear how Dr. Gail Thomas, Santiago Calatrava and Dallas made it happen.

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Our House Family Housing Renovation


Amanda Simpson and her 1-year-old daughter Alynnea have lived at the Our House Shelter for one year. Amanda’s story of how she came to Our House is unfortunately not a unique one; she got out of an abusive relationship with her daughter’s father, moved into a battered women’s shelter, and eventually ended up at the Our House Shelter. She was first a resident in the dorms, sharing a room with forty other women, while trying to figure out how to be a new, young mother.

One month ago things changed for the better for Amanda and Alynnea with the opening of the Family Housing unit on the Our House campus. The Family Housing Unit, which has 14 units in two buildings, has allowed Amanda to gain more independence and prepare for the real world. She is able to go grocery shopping for her family on her own and get a sense of what it will be like to live in an apartment in the real world.

“It definitely puts more structure into your life and prepares you for the real world,” Amanda says. All residents do their own chores and share responsibility for the common kitchen and living room.

The most important aspect of the family housing for Amanda is being able to get the much needed quality time with her daughter, thanks to the private family rooms.

“I can see a change in my daughter’s attitude already. Our bond has gotten stronger since we have been on our own. I have been able to take what I’ve learned from the parenting classes taught here and apply it at home without other women interfering with how I parent,” Amanda says.

She looks forward to the day she moves out and has aspirations of becoming a surgical technician, but for now she is just taking it one day at a time, enjoying her new apartment in the family housing unit and rebuilding her life with Alynnea.

“The family housing unit has inspired me a lot; it’s made me more independent and has given me good structure in my life. I would recommend it for any young homeless mothers.”

Our House, Inc. provides family housing to homeless families and individuals.  The Family Housing Program consists of two buildings with 13 units.  Residents stay in private family rooms and share a common living room and kitchen.  The program enables married people to stay together and parents to stay with their children.  Our House is the only program in the state of Arkansas that provides housing to single, homeless fathers with their children and families that include older male children.

So, we were excited to help Our House with  planning, design and renovation of the two existing buildings.  We designed a new porch, organized the existing spaces so that private bathrooms could be provided, not the group bathrooms before, and provided a communal kitchen with private pantries and commercial freezer/ref. for each family.  Many groups came together to provide funding, furniture, kitchen equipment, linens.  A great project all around.



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