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Whole Health institute will be built on museum grounds

by Mike Jones | December 16, 2020 at 7:28 a.m.
West view of the Whole Health Institute. (Courtesy Photos/Marlon Blackwell Architects)

BENTONVILLE -- The Whole Health Institute will be built at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, according to a news release.

Walmart heiress Alice Walton announced the institute's establishment during the Northwest Arkansas Council's winter meeting at Crystal Bridges in January.

The American health care system needs a goal and an aspiration too, Walton told the Northwest Council in January.

"It's a disease care system not health care system," she said.

The current system reacts to health problems when they arise, she said. The result is a nation first in health care spending and 37th in life expectancy, she said.

The institute will be on the museum's 120-acre grounds and include space for interactive programs and convention space for up to 800 people, according to the release.

The building will include access to the Chopra Library and offices for the institute and Art Bridges. Walton founded Art Bridges, which creates and supports programs to expand access to American art across the nation, according to the museum website.

Dr. Deepak Chopra, a philanthropist, doctor and longtime advocate of goal-oriented approaches to health, held his "Sages and Scientists 2019 Symposium" at Crystal Bridges.

"Crystal Bridges and Whole Health Institute are partner organizations with an aligned vision of enriching lives," Rod Bigelow, executive director of the museum, said in the release. "We are excited to welcome them to the neighborhood and look forward to exploring the intersection of art, nature and well-being through programs, conversations and collaborations."

The 75,000-square-foot, multiuse office and community space designed by Marlon Blackwell Architects will break ground in spring 2021 with an estimated completion date of 2023. The building will be on the northwest side of the newly planned parking deck, according to the release. The city Planning Commission approved a rezoning for the deck Dec. 1.

A cost estimate for the institute's construction isn't available, Beth Bobbitt, Crystal Bridges' public relations director, said Tuesday. Brian Bahr, city planning services manager, said no plans for the project have been submitted to the city.

"Earlier this year, we announced the Whole Health Institute with our mission to give everyone access to a transformative approach to health," Tracy Gaudet, executive director of the Whole Health Institute, said in the release. "As our newly formed institution continues to develop, the location on Crystal Bridges' campus and the design of this building provide an ideal setting for interactive programs that will welcome the community to take charge of their health and well-being surrounded by nature and inspiring works of art."

Gaudet, formerly of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will bring in a team to refine, implement and expand a more dynamic, motivated approach to health care, Walton said in January.

"The Whole Health Institute is a valuable partner in helping build Northwest Arkansas into a premier health care destination," said Nelson Peacock, president and chief executive officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council.

"By integrating wellness of mind and body as an core component of health care, the Whole Health Institute will change the paradigm from a physician-centered approach to one focused on the individual. These transformative efforts happening right here in Arkansas will help establish the state and region as a national leader in health care," he said.

The council is a group of top business, government and education leaders in the region. Walton founded the museum, is the chairwoman of the museum's board and board member of the Walton Family Foundation.

"Chronic conditions account for 75% of all U.S. health care costs," Walton said in January. These conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and others, could be prevented or mitigated by changing behaviors, she said. Her hope is the institute will lead to better lifestyles in Northwest Arkansas and, from there, spread to the rest of the United States, she said.

Northwest view of the Whole Health Institute. (Courtesy Photos/Marlon Blackwell Architects)
Northwest view of the Whole Health Institute. (Courtesy Photos/Marlon Blackwell Architects)
East view of the Whole Health Institute. (Courtesy Photos/Marlon Blackwell Architects)
East view of the Whole Health Institute. (Courtesy Photos/Marlon Blackwell Architects)
Dogtrot of Whole Health Institute Building. (Courtesy Photos/Marlon Blackwell Architects)
Dogtrot of Whole Health Institute Building. (Courtesy Photos/Marlon Blackwell Architects)
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