American Institute of Architects Honors ARTSPACE, ART WORKS


The ARTSpace and ART WORKS received a Merit Award during the 2021 AIA Arkansas Design Awards, presented Oct. 21 in Hot Springs. The award is the latest design honor bestowed upon the new community arts and events spaces in downtown Pine Bluff. Projects of The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, the renovated buildings opened to the public in summer 2021.

The facilities have also been selected to receive the 2021 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Adaptive Reuse from Preserve Arkansas. The award will be presented at a ceremony Jan. 28, 2022, at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock.

In September, the buildings received a Bronze Award for Adaptive Reuse from the South Central chapter of the American Society of Interior Design (ASID). The honors were part of the chapter’s 2021 Excellence in Design Awards.

The ARTSpace (623 S. Main St.) and ART WORKS (627 S. Main St.) supplement ASC’s main building at 701 S. Main St. The three facilities comprise ASC’s “ARTx3” campus and initiative.

“The Arts & Science Center is thrilled to receive such wonderful recognition from the AIA Arkansas and Preserve Arkansas for the ARTx3 project,” said ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller. “It’s been a true labor of love. These awards are also recognition of the progressive and creative efforts of the community of Pine Bluff to diversify the creative economy and establish dynamic spaces that foster opportunities to engage the whole community through the arts.”

AMR Architects of Little Rock led the buildings’ design, collaborating with designLAB architects in Boston. East Harding Construction of Little Rock oversaw the construction and renovation of the 100-year-old buildings.

Beautiful and functional examples of adaptive reuse, the buildings were constructed in the 1920s. Renovations converted the dark, industrial buildings into bright, open multifunctional spaces.

“AMR Architects, in partnership with designLAB architects focused on how to elevate the Arts and Science Center’s mission in conjunction with the revitalization of downtown Pine Bluff,” said AMR partner and architect Jonathan Opitz, AIA. “With Dr. Miller leading the design and construction teams, we were able to transform two existing deteriorating downtown buildings into shining examples of what is possible through restoration and renovation. We really appreciate all the community stakeholders engaging in the process to ensure the end product serves the needs of the community. We value the project being recognized for awards, but the greatest reward is getting to hear the community respond to the finished product. We are grateful to have been a part of this process and the success story that is the ARTx3 project,” he said.

The project is generously funded by the Windgate Foundation, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. The ARTSpace and ART WORKS are also supported by the Kline Family Foundation and from donations to the Adam B. Robinson Jr. Endowment Fund.

The facilities include the Windgate Community Gallery (Pine Bluff’s only retail gallery); the Kline Family Foundation Event Gallery; and the Adam B. Robinson Black Box Theater; the Loft Gallery; and The ART Yard for outdoor event and garden space. Five apartments and accompanying studios are available for visiting artists. Additional functional spaces include a large workshop for classes and scene construction; a costume shop; a computer lab; and offices. The Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission and Explore Pine Bluff office moved into The ARTSpace earlier this year. Combined, the buildings offer a little more than 22,000 square feet of space.