The Arkansas Arts Center has selected five national and international architectural firms to consider for the multimillion-dollar expansion of the center, officials said Friday.
The firms selected as finalists are: Allied Works of Portland, Ore., and New York; Shigeru Ban of New York, Paris and Tokyo; Studio Gang of Chicago and New York; Thomas Phifer of New York; and Snohetta of Oslo, Norway, New York and San Francisco.
A local partner architect will be selected early next year after a contract is signed with the primary firm, said Todd Herman, executive director of the Arts Center.
"It's an incredible lineup, and we are thrilled that one of these talented architects will go to work on re-imagining the Arkansas Arts Center," Herman said.
A request for qualifications will be issued as part of choosing the local architect, which will be selected by both the design architect and officials from the Arts Center in Little Rock, said Arts Center spokesman Angel Galloway.
The finalists will present their general project approach and design philosophies to a selection committee Nov. 1, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the lower lobby of the Arts Center at 501 E. 9th St. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
"After a very deliberate process that involved expert input and a focus on the particular needs of our institution, both the technical review panel and the selection committee agree that we have in this final group not only some of the best architects in the world, but those with the kinds of specific experience with museums and cultural institutions nationally and internationally that we need to successfully accomplish our goals," Herman said.
The panel reviewed the 23 proposals that were submitted to the Arts Center and recommended a slate of finalists to the selection committee.
The selection committee will make the final recommendations to the Arkansas Arts Center's board of trustees.
The selection committee includes: Herman, City Director Dean Kumpuris, Little Rock Parks and Recreation Director Truman Tolefree, Arts Center board Chairman Mary Ellen Irons, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Chairman Bobby Tucker, Little Rock Small Business Development Director Chauncey Holloman, former Central Arkansas Library System Director Bobby Roberts, and Arts Center board members Isabel Anthony, Vany Tilbury and Chucki Bradbury.
The city Board of Directors voted last year to increase the portion of the advertising and promotion tax collected on city hotel stays to benefit the Arts Center and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, both in MacArthur Park.
Voters then approved a bond issue of up to $37.5 million to allow a large-scale expansion of the Arts Center. The debt will be paid back with proceeds of the tax increase. Through July, almost $1.2 million had been raised from the tax increase.
Arts Center officials have said the public funds will be paired with privately raised dollars for the Arts Center expansion.
"The Arts Center is a symbol of the importance that this community -- and state -- places on culture, arts education and quality of life, and all Arkansans will have the opportunity to share in that civic pride," Herman said.
Metro on 10/01/2016