Designed by Studio Gang architects, together with landscape design firm SCAPE and Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts (AMFA) reaches an important construction milestone with the recent completion of its signature new roof. Spanning the entire length of the project and connecting the various buildings, both renovated and new, the folded plate concrete roof establishes the museum’s new architectural identity as the leading cultural institution for the state of Arkansas.
Located in Little Rock, the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, formerly known as Arkansas Arts Centre, is home to a renowned art collection, Windgate Art School and several performing arts spaces. The original museum building was created in 1937, and several structures have been added since to accommodate the new programs and to meet the need of its growing audience. The redesign and expansion project creates new connections and expands the museum’s programming capacity while also creating new indoor and outdoor gatherings spaces for both the community and the visitors.
In working with Studio Gang and SCAPE, we are realizing the most contemporary ideas about museums and public spaces and creating a new paradigm that is both art- and people-centric.- AMFA Executive Director Victoria Ramirez
Studio Gang’s design reshapes the experience of the museum through a mix of new construction and refurbishment of the existing structures built between 1937 and 2000, seeking to knit together the various elements within a cohesive new architectural identity. The latter is achieved through a new central axis, a flexible atrium space that runs the entire length of the building, from which the various exhibition, education and performance spaces branch out. On both ends of this “stem” linking the different programs, the design features large public areas. The pleated roof complements this central atrium space and expands like a blossom to mark the museum’s entry points.
The renovated spaces have been adapted to meet the museum’s programming aspirations. The most carbon-intensive structures have been kept intact, while others have been reconfigured. Studio Gang’s design has brought back to life the original 1937 Art Deco façade of the Museum of Fine Arts designed by architect H. Ray Burks, which had been absorbed within the interior space over the years.
The renovation project also adds new landscaped grounds to the museum’s site. SCAPE’s landscape design project strengthens the AMFA’s connection to its immediate context while also providing new gathering spaces. The project features a diverse mix of indigenous plant species, and the layout of the gardens will echo the roof’s distinctive lines.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the construction process has maintained on track, and the museum will open to the public in May 2022.