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The Shelter Project in St. Louis, designed by Somewhere Studio, was the winner in the Social Impact category of the 2021 AN Best of Design Awards.
Somewhere Studio, an architecture practice led by U of A professors Jessica Colangelo and Charles Sharpless, and the U of A Community Design Center were both recognized in the 2021 AN Best of Design Awards. The annual competition is sponsored by The Architect's Newspaper.
The AN Best of Design Awards is a premiere North American awards program open to design professionals for interiors, buildings, landscape, urbanism and installations in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Somewhere Studio was the winner in the Social Impact category for The Shelter Project in St. Louis. The Community Design Center received an honorable mention in the Unbuilt—Urban Design category for the Markham Square Housing District in Conway.
Colangelo is an assistant professor of architecture, and Sharpless is an assistant professor of interior design, both in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. Steve Luoni, a Distinguished Professor and the Steven L. Anderson Chair in Architecture and Urban Studies, is the director of the design center, which is an outreach program of the Fay Jones School.
The Shelter Project is a new bus stop for the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood in St. Louis that was designed for the Wellston Loop Community Development Corporation in collaboration with the Saint Louis Story Stitchers, Metro St. Louis, Cure Violence and the Wells-Goodfellow Neighborhood Association.
The shelter design combines the necessary shade and seating elements of a bus stop with a cell-phone charging station, community bulletin board and pantry to distribute common household goods to those in need. The roof design includes a water collection system to capture rainwater for the adjacent garden and a solar panel to power the charging station and lights.
"Wouldn't it be great if our urban furniture provided real necessities as opposed to saturating us with advertisements?" said Aaron Seward, editor in chief of The Architect's Newspaper and a jury member for the 2021 AN Best of Design Awards. "Here's a bus shelter that collects rainwater for irrigating plants, harvests solar energy for a charging station, and includes a community bulletin board and pantry in addition to furnishing shade and seating."
A local construction company, Alberici Constructors, donated the material and labor for the recycled steel frame, and the structure is finished with wood slats hand-painted two colors to create a playful texture. Artist Katherine Bernhardt designed a mural for the wood fence behind the shelter in collaboration with the Saint Louis Story Stitchers, a youth artist collective, to raise awareness of the destructiveness of gun violence in St. Louis.
"We are honored that The Architect's Newspaper recognized the creativity, inventiveness and excitement invested in this relatively small project," Colangelo said. "Winning the social impact category means a great deal to the community groups and local professionals that realized this project, and we hope the project will serve as a reminder and inspiration for our students on how small projects have the capacity to make a big impact."
The Markham Square Housing District in Conway, designed by the U of A Community Design Center, received an Honorable Mention in the Unbuilt—Urban Design category of the 2021 AN Best of Design Awards. Rendering courtesy of the U of A Community Design Center.
The Markham Square Housing District project is a downtown regeneration proposal for an industrial brownfields site, a former scrap metal yard four blocks north of Conway's main commercial street, re-imagined as a new square surrounded by a mixed-use residential district. The vision for this new square features "wilded," or natural, landscapes that will help manage stormwater runoff and control flooding. It also proposes multifamily housing with distinct frontages — including two-story screened porches, balconies, terraces, patios and courtyards — that line the edge of "green" streets incorporating stormwater treatment landscapes.
The housing types consist of affordable walk-up residential multifamily typologies — rowhouses, bungalows, triplexes, courtyard housing and townhouses — that have not been built since the dominance of 1950s suburban policy. These housing typologies, also called missing middle housing, are compatible with single-family housing. They are affordable types (between 900 and 2,100 square feet) that are key to revitalizing small and mid-sized downtowns without the population dislocations that accompany gentrification.
The Markham Square proposal connects street and square as a continuous civic space, with a design that combines pedestrian-friendly "slow streets" with the square's plazas that showcase public art. The goal is to create an iconic downtown gathering place while introducing downtown housing options for which there is demand but no supply. Markham Square could become a choice downtown neighborhood for an underserved market desiring downtown residential living in Central Arkansas.
"Markham Square is one of those special projects that allow us to integrate a housing studio for design students with work by the center's staff and partners in landscape architecture, ecology, infrastructure and policy for a receptive client," Luoni said. "We are pleased for AN's recognition, particularly for a project that, while not glamorous, offers a model of livability for modest urban environments everywhere."
Additionally, three other Northwest Arkansas projects were recognized in the awards program. EskewDumezRipple was the winner in the Institutional–Kindergartens, Primary and High Schools category for the Home Building at Thaden School in Bentonville. TM Light received an honorable mention in the Architectural Lighting–Indoor category for the ramen bar CO-OP Ramen in Bentonville. Trahan Architects was an editors pick in the Unbuilt–Cultural category for Luther George Park in Springdale.
Shawnya Lee Meyers, digital media specialistFay Jones School of Architecture and Design479-575-4744,firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Parks, director of communicationsFay Jones School of Architecture and Design479-575-4704,email@example.com