The Walton Family Foundation in Bentonville, Arkansas, has announced the launch of a new initiative that aims to elevate the quality of architectural and landscape design in Benton and Washington counties.
The Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program will work to promote the highest level of design in the development of future public buildings and spaces in the two counties. Through the program, the foundation will provide financial support to school districts; county, state, or local municipalities; and nonprofit organizations planning to develop spaces for public purposes. The first phase of the program will involve the selection of world-class designers who would be considered for future projects as they are announced. While the program is open to professionals at the local, national, and international level, it is intended to foster regional design excellence and potential cooperation between in-state and out-of-state firms. Inspired by a similar program established by the Cummins Foundation in Columbus, Indiana, the program expects to support up to three projects annually.
"The establishment of a design excellence program in northwest Arkansas was driven by our strategic approach to preserve our region’s sense of place," said Karen Minkel, Home Region program director at the Walton Family Foundation. "Over the last twenty-five years, the population in northwest Arkansas has more than doubled, creating opportunities and challenges in planning and design. The Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program will encourage quality design of public spaces while complementing the rich architectural history of our urban fabric."