Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

-AR-Little Rock

Choctaw Route Station (1899)

Now part of the Clinton Presidential Center, this former passenger depot houses the William J. Clinton Foundation, and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

Little Rock, AR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A few things about this building caught my eye.

First is the very elaborate, and finely detailed terra cotta. THE CHOCTAW ROUTE is permanently emblazened at the top in bold letters and the terra cotta details around the second floor frieze is outstanding.

The second thing that caught my eye is how they carefully enclosed the track side of the building with glass to provide additional office space. The floor to ceiling glass enclosure is set just behind the original structural columns. You still get the feel for the old passenger depot. To reinforce the reference to the past use, there is a sidewalk where the train tracks used to be – leading all the way to the old train bridge over the river (which is now a pedestrian bridge).

I would say that the Choctaw Route Depot is not the greatest example of turn of the century passenger depot architecture, but the terra cotta and the adaptive reuse is well worth a look.

When in Little Rock, if you are looking for a fun colorful place for dinner, try Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro

Advertisements

Old State House (1836)

Gideon Shryock, Architect

300 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This Greek Revival building served as the Arkansas State Capitol until the  current State Capitol Building opened. It is currently a museum of Arkansas history and culture. Inside, the pair of symetrical curved wood staircases are beautiful, dynamic sculptures. Not bad for being over 175 years old.

When in Little Rock and looking for a place for dinner, if you are up for a fun and colorful place, go to Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro


Heifer International World Headquarters (2006)

Reese Rowland AIA, Project Designer

1 World Avenue, Little Rock AR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Visited April 25 & 26 2013

What I love about my roadtrips is that I come across all sorts of unusual and unexpected surprises.

There is a large development behind the Clinton Center that peaked my interest, and I discovered that it all started with a cow…yes, a cow.

From their website, “Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth”. The story of how it started is one of those simple stories that just makes sense:

“Moved by the plight of orphans and refugees… as he ladled out meager rations of powdered milk, Dan West… grasped that the people needed “a cow, not a cup”—cows that could produce milk so families would not have to depend on temporary aid.”

The facility is actually a couple buildings, a large office building and a low pavilion which is used as a demonstration and education space. The complex was designed as a sustainable project with telltale sunscreens, natural planting areas, and roofwater runoff directed down creatively conceived troughs in the concrete wingwalls to water the planting beds.

With limited time, and an overcast rainy day, my experience and photos of the complex are very superficial and limited. After seeing the buildings from a distance, I just walked over in the misty rain and started taking pictures. I did not grasp the full impact of the Heifer organization and their buildings until I went through their website after I got back home…

It looks to me like they are doing a great job with both their mission and their buildings!

While in Little Rock, if you want to try a fun colorful place for dinner, I recommend Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro


Arkansas State Capitol (1899-1915)

George R. Mann, Architect

500 Woodlane Street, Little Rock, AR 72201

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Visited April 26, 2013

If you are looking for a fun, colorful place for dinner, try Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro


Clinton Presidential Center – Interior (2004)

James Stewart Polshek FAIA, Architect

1200 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72201

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Visited April 26, 2013

While at the Museum, have lunch at the museum cafe, FortyTwo


Clinton Presidential Center – Exterior (2004)

James Stewart Polshek FAIA, Architect

1200 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72201

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Visited April 25 & 26, 2013

I finally got the opportunity to visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Center. Over the years I have heard other architects joking that it looks like a single wide trailer. I was shocked to chat with a local woman in Little Rock who found out that I was an architect there to see the Clinton Center – she leaned over and quietly said “I think it looks like a single wide trailer”.

I have seen other James Stewart Polshek buildings and know that they are striking, well detailed modern objects. This is no exception. This building is described as a bridge…at least the beginning of a bridge cantilevered out at the river’s edge. He uses the bridge reference literally from the adjacent abandoned railroad bridge, and figuratively from Clinton’s “Bridge to the Future” acceptance speech. This square tube truss dramatically cantilevers out toward the river at the eastern edge of downtown Little Rock. The western facade has fritted glass panels suspended several feet in front of the truss frame creating a sunscreen shielding the interior space. At night this glass curtain glows with the light from inside the museum. The cross bracing structural members on the ends are purposely placed off center to create a dynamic frame in what could have been a bland facade. It did not disappoint. Well done.

As far as the local’s reference to it looking like a single wide trailer, The Clinton Presidential Center is not alone with nicknames.  Polshek’s Biomedical Science Research Building on the University of Michigan Campus is known as the “Pringle” building by locals – due to the potato chip shaped roof of the auditorium sited prominently out front. I am sure that James Stewart Polshek would not approve of either.

While visiting the Museum, have lunch at the museum cafe, FortyTwo