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BENTONVILLE -- The Thaden School will be more like a small college campus than a traditional school building, school and design officials revealed to a small crowd Wednesday night.

"This is not one big building with one door and some emergency exits," said Z Smith, principal at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, a New Orleans, La.-based architecture firm. "But really it's like a small college campus."

Thaden School Meetings

• Springdale: Today at the Jones Center at 922 E. Emma Ave.

• Rogers: Dec. 1 at the Rogers Historical Museum Annex at 120 W. Poplar St.

• Fayetteville: Dec. 13 at Fayetteville Town Center at 15 W Mountain St.

• Bentonville: Jan. 5 at the Record building at 104 S.W. A St.

All meetings will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit

Source: Staff Report

Eskew+Dumez+Ripple is part of the design team selected to design the Thaden School campus. Other members include Marlon Blackwell Architects of Fayetteville and Andropogon of Philadelphia and Raleigh, N.C.

The Thaden School was selected as a project for the Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program, which seeks to elevate architectural quality of public buildings in Benton and Washington counties.

The Thaden School, which is an independent private school backed by the Walton Family Foundation, will be on 30 acres at the corner of South Main and Southeast Eighth streets, the former home of the Benton County Fairgrounds.

Smith and Clayton Marsh, founding head of school, addressed an audience of about 70 at the Record building on Wednesday night. General renderings of the campus and its building placements were displayed on storyboards.

"What we're trying to do here is design landscape and buildings together, interactively," Smith said, explaining landscaping is the last aspect thought about in most developments.

The campus is split in the middle by Southeast C Street. The west side is a city block bounded by Southeast Eighth Street to the north and Southeast 10th Street to the south. The east side is bounded by the backs of houses on Southeast 10th, Southeast G, and Southeast E streets.

Smith explained the campus as an "urban pastoral project." It will be more urban with educational buildings on the west side that runs along South Main Street and remain true to the agricultural nature on the east side with sports fields, a forest and a prairie.

The campus will also include a one-mile walking trail, a mountain bike pump track and a public park along Southeast Eighth Street.

The campus sits just south of the Arts and Market districts and will act as a connector between them, Smith said. The goal is to have community partners from those districts come and guest lecture and also to have students be able to learn at those sites.

Marsh explained the school's vision for its educational programming. The school has a commitment to balance and will place equal emphasis on the humanities and sciences and the dynamic connections across those disciplines, he said.

That will show itself through the school's three signature programs -- wheels, meals and reels, he continued.

The fields of physics and mechanics will be emphasized in wheels; biology, chemistry and community will be emphasized through the growing and preparation of food in meals; and narrative and visual communications will be explored through the production of film in reels, according to one of the story boards.

The west side of the campus will have about five buildings with different focuses, such as art, performance, fabrication with different labs and a dining and living building. They will surround a interior commons space.

The former home of Louise Thaden, accomplished female aviator in the 1920s and 1930s, will be moved from West Central Avenue to the northeast corner of the west side of the campus.

Marsh said the school was named before the opportunity to save her home was presented.

"We love her because she's not just innovative and pioneering, but she made great connections to the region," Marsh said of Thaden. "She had roots and wings -- strong connection to place but soaring aspirations. This will be a school that gives kids roots and wings. It will give them a foundation and enables them to reach news heights."

The school will open in August with grades seven and nine and grow gradually over the next four years to serve students in grades six through 12.

The school is accepting applications now through Jan. 31. It will offer an indexed tuition rate ranging from $500 to $24,800 per year depending on each family's resources, officials announced earlier this month.

Design and construction of the campus will be done before the school begins its third academic year in the fall of 2019. During its first two years, Thaden will run its programs in a combination of temporary and permanent structures on the east side of its campus.

NW News on 11/17/2016

Print Headline: Officials present Thaden campus design


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