The Downtown Little Rock Partnership (DLRP) announced today a new series of events - Alley Parties – that will be held in tucked-away portions of downtown. The first Alley Party will be held on Thursday, April 27, in East Village at 1212 6th Street.
Presented by Rock Region Metro, Cromwell, Moses Tucker and The Paint Factory, the Alley Party will feature live music from The Going Jesses, craft beer from Lost Forty and Rebel Kettle, spirits from Rock Town Distillery, and food from one of the city’s favorite taco trucks. The event will start at 5:30pm and wind down at 8:00.
“This is a beautiful city, with incredible and unique architecture,” said Gabe Holmstrom, DLRP Executive Director. “We are excited to show off another side of Little Rock, the Little Rock tucked-away, off the beaten path. By bringing music and fun and life to new areas we will hopefully spark people’s imagination of what else might be possible.”
Additional Alley Parties will be held on May 18 and June 15. The Alley Party series is open to the public.
Cromwell Architects Engineers has added a new office in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Architect Josh Danish, a graduate from the University of Arkansas with 14 years of experience in the field, will lead Cromwell’s work in Northwest Arkansas. Josh served as Design Director for Ken Shireman and Associates and as a Principal at deMx Architecture prior to joining the Cromwell team. Josh currently serves as Plans Chief for the Tri- County Search and Rescue organization and runs ARkidTECTURE, an architectural nonprofit program for elementary school children, in his spare time.
Located at 208 N. Block Avenue, the new office was built as a service station in 1929 but is probably best known as the Beaver Electric Building. COO Dan Fowler, who has a knack for seeing potential in historic spaces, knew that it would be perfect for Cromwell. “The building has such an amazing history in the community, and repurposing the building for our offices embodies the values that are so important to Cromwell. We are excited to be part of such an amazing diverse community that shares our values of preserving and building for future generations.”
Cromwell has an established history of work in Northwest Arkansas. Projects in the area include the Benton County Courthouse, the new ArcBest Headquarters, Washington Regional Medical Center, the Cadence Apartments, and work for the City of Fayetteville Planning Department. The firm has also provided a variety of services for the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, working on projects such as the Leflar Law Center, the Arts and Design District, Yocum Hall, and the Innovation Center, the first LEED building in the state.
The new office will enable Cromwell to continue our work in building better communities in Arkansas- a passion of ours since 1885- by offering Design, Construction, and Operations expertise for our clients in Northwest Arkansas. The new office will join a growing network of local branches that serve communities across the state and around the globe. Those offices are located in Little Rock, Jonesboro, Fayetteville, NC, and Kaiserslautern, Germany.
The historic Hotel Pines in downtown Pine Bluff was sold Tuesday, January 17th for $1. Former owner Elvin Moon, an LA businessman who worked at the hotel as an elevator operator as a teenager, sold the building to Pine Bluff Rising, a non-profit dedicated to rejuvenating Pine Bluff. The sale is part of a much larger plan to revitalize the city; the Go Forward Pine Bluff Task force.
Formed in November of 2015, the Go Forward Pine Bluff Tax Force is made up over 100 residents of Jefferson Country. They have worked to put together a report and recommendations for boosting the city of Pine Bluff. The plan has four pillars, or steering committees; education, economic development, infrastructure, and quality of life. The categories were decided upon after two surveys were presented to residents about what was important to them. The 50 million dollar plan was presented to the city January 12th. The plan contained 27 recommendations for the city. One of these recommendations is to repurpose or demolish the Pines Hotel.
Designed by one of Little Rock’s most renowned architects, George Mann, the hotel first opened its doors in 1913 and was considered to be one of the most prestigious hotels in the state. The hotel’s original purpose was to house the various train passengers coming from the nearby Union Station. This train service was cancelled in 1968 and the hotel closed its doors 2 years after. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 due to its unique mix of classical Greek and Roman architectural style.
Restoring the hotel has been a very important goal of the people of Pine Bluff since the 1970’s but funding for the renovation has always been an issue. The hotel fell into serious disrepair and was condemned by a city inspector in 1986. One year later, the city went into discussions about demolishing the building. A non-profit group, Citizens to Save the Pines, stepped in and bought the property with plans to restore it, but the building was sold again in 2003 to Mr. Moon.
Mr. Moon had planned on restoring the property and turning it into a mixed-use property but also ran into financial obstacles. In 2014, the city of Pine Bluff sent a letter to Mr. Moon declaring that the hotel was “Not Repairable” and that a motion for it to be removed would be discussed among city council members for approval. Disagreeing with the city’s determination of disrepair, Mr. Moon hired Cromwell Architects Engineers to investigate the structural soundness of the building. Other than issues with two building columns, we determined that the building was structurally sound. We also recommended reinforcing the columns to prevent further damage to the building.
Cromwell made another visit out to the Pines Hotel on February 1st to evaluate the property for the new revitalization efforts. Community members have voiced many reasons for saving the hotel, including the unique columns and stained glass, and have also proposed to use the building as an educational tool for environmental and structural studies. No decisions have been made about what will be done with the building.
The Pines hotel is a great piece of Arkansas’ rich architectural history and is just one of many historic buildings that exist in downtown Pine Bluff. We hope that the efforts of Pine Bluff Rising and the Pine Bluff Task Force will be able to gain the support they need to reinvigorate their city. For more information on the Go forward Pine Bluff Task Force and Pine Bluff Rising, please visit Pine Bluff’s online newspaper, www.pbcommercial.com.
Cromwell Architects Engineers had a great opportunity to host an Arkansas Promise Intern last summer. Dorian Shavis spent a month working with us and experiencing what it takes to be an architect. The internship culminated with Dorian presenting some of the work he did while at Cromwell. Dorian completed the internship the summer before his 10th grade year at Central High School.
Arkansas PROMISE is part of a new research program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help youth and their families improve their educational and employment outcomes. The program is being administered by the Department of Education and the University of Arkansas, in partnership with several other state agencies and private organizations. PROMISE focuses on providing job skills and knowledge, by connecting students to potential employers and arranging for paid work that is vital to their growth. PROMISE helps today's young adults set goals to be connected, included and successful in their communities.
It was such a fantastic experience for everyone that they made a short video about it.
In conjunction with Cromwell’s 130th anniversary, we paired up with Abandoned Arkansas and the Old State House Museum to create an exhibit, Lost + Found: Saving Downtowns in Arkansas, which is on display at the Old State House Museum until December 11th.
"This exhibit takes a close look at eight pieces of Arkansas's architectural heritage; some of those are in dire need of preservation, and others are outstanding examples of restoration and creative reuse,” said Bill Gatewood, Old State House Museum Director. Designer of many of these structures, Charles Thompson was one of the most influential architects of our time and a founding partner of Cromwell. In his time, he and his partners designed over 2,500 structures – hundreds of which still stand. However, some of these buildings are in danger.
In this exhibit, we present some of our most endangered communities and some our greatest success stories. Gatewood says, “The Old State House Museum is a natural venue for this exhibit, as the repository of the drawings of Charles L. Thompson and as one of the state's earliest historic preservation success stories." The hope is that those who see the exhibit will be encouraged to take action, become involved in their communities, and help save these historic buildings from further decline, before more of our architectural heritage is lost.
As part of the exhibit, Cromwell's Director of Finance and Business Development, Dan Fowler will be giving a presentation at the Old State House Museum at noon on Thursday, December 3rd to further expand on Cromwell's history.
Through his Facebook page, History of The Heights, Jim Pfeifer shares both the history of the architecture and the deeds of those who have lived in some of Little Rock, Arkansas' most beautiful and historic homes. Visit History of The Heights.
It’s the first day of spring, so let’s take a look at the very first Cromwell project on Spring Street!
The Remmel Flats, 1700-1702 Spring Street in Little Rock, designed by Charles Thompson in 1906, is the first of four multi-family units designed and built for H.L. Remmel in a block within a residential neighborhood. These multi-family units, are representative of the firm’s efforts in designing rental structures sensitive to neighborhoods of large single-family properties by the application of popular architectural motifs.
This interesting variation of a American Foursquare is a double flat frame house that includes a high hipped roof, central dormer and Classical Revival details. Two entrance doors flank a centrally placed two-story chamfered bay. The two separate porches feature Ionic columns which support a full entablature with plain frieze and dentil molding and a roof balustrade. Cross gables with dormers enliven the roofscape; the front dormer is a decorative characterized by pediment gable roof with dentil molding, pilasters, and leaded glass transom; the dormer is accentuated by a low balustrade on the roof. As in other Foursquare houses with projecting bays designed by Thompson, large curving brackets line the eaves on one side of the bay.
This structure was listed in National Register of Historic Places on 12/22/1982.
Mark your calendars for the 2015 JDRF Imagine Gala on April 25 from 6-11 pm. The JDRF Gala will be held to raise funds for diabetes research and to further increase public education and awareness of diabetes. The evening includes silent and live auctions, dinner and dancing.
JDRF is dedicated to its mission of finding a cure for diabetes through the support of research and research-related education. It is committed to improving the lives of those with type 1 diabetes by curing, treating, and preventing the disease.
Cromwell is proud to be a long-time supporter of JDRF and other Central Arkansas charities such as Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Red Cross, and the Boys and Girls Club. Rob Seay, Director of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, and his wife, Luanne, will be co-chairing this event.
Rob is a 1990 graduate of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He holds professional engineering licenses in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Florida, South Carolina, Iowa and Montana. He is also a LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Energy Manager.
Rob started with Cromwell the Monday after he graduated from college. He is now a principal in the firm, serving as the Director of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering since 2005.
Last year, Arkansas lost a historic architectural treasure to fire. The Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs caught fire February 27, 2014 and burned to the ground, dashing local support for restoration.
The original Majestic Hotel was constructed in 1902 and was a favorite destination for several Major League teams including the renowned Boston Red Sox. The Sox trained at Majestic Field on the south end of town. As part of their training they hiked the four miles to and from the ball field, over West Mountain.
Constructed on the site of the Whittington House in 1926, the second Majestic Hotel was an eight story brick structure connected to the first Majestic Hotel on the right and the Lanai Suites (1958) on the left. Designed by Sanders and Ginocchio (Cromwell firm predecessor), the building had a one story entrance and lobby projection, the parapet of which was adorned with urns, that faced the street. Windows were six-over-one double-hung with the exception of the one story section that had multi-paned casement windows with fixed side lights and transom. Four pairs of windows on the seventh floor had wrought iron balconies. One of the most distinguishing features of this hotel was the rich classically-inspired cast ornament that embellished the two top and bottom floors. In 1934, the firm of Thompson, Sanders and Ginnochio (Cromwell firm predecessor), was responsible for some alterations, the nature of which is not known.
In February of 2013, Abandoned Arkansas documented the Majestic in it’s abandoned state, and again after it’s destruction. Their photographs captured the derelict beauty of the property, including some still stunning original architectural features.
Active downtowns emerged as a result of the need for economic and social interaction. As time passed, these downtowns were scorned for big box commercial centers on the edge of town. At Cromwell, we are noticing a renewed interest in these downtowns. There are many strategies to help revive these areas including placing emphasis on sustainable practices. Incorporating sustainability into urban areas does not have to cost a fortune and should specifically fit the unique needs of each town.
The first step in the renewal process is to assess the existing buildings, infrastructure, open space, and strengths of the community, all while considering the needs and desires of any current downtown tenants. Existing buildings represent opportunities to maintain the historical context and character of your town. It’s important to note that not all buildings are meant to be restored; this needs to be an informed decision because the historical value of these buildings will be lost forever. Nothing is more critical to this process than selecting a quality team to help determine the feasibility of restoration. It is a good idea to select a multidiscipline firm, such as Cromwell, to help you make these hard decisions.
Historical buildings are beautiful, but they also use more energy than a modern building. While that is often considered a negative in redevelopment, there are many opportunities to reclaim some of that lost energy. Some of these improvements are low cost, while others may require significant financial investment. You should work with a team of experienced professionals to perform an analysis to understand the costs, benefits, and savings anticipated with each decision.
Lighting represents an opportunity for dramatically increasing energy efficiency while lowering overhead and maintenance requirements. LED (light emitting diode) lighting prices are plummeting as the technology becomes more developed. While costs can still prohibit many municipalities from making the switch, prices will continue to drop and municipalities should begin to budget for lighting changes in the next few years or sooner. The long term financial savings and reduction in maintenance will result in a quick return on investment.
If vacant lots are located within the revitalization area, they should be utilized to spur community involvement. These lots represent great opportunities for environmentally responsible decisions such as community gardens, pocket parks, or a farmers’ market. Gardens provide a place where citizens can grow vegetables or flowers. Pocket parks vary greatly in size, even as small as a single parking space, and can be used to expose citizens to the long term redevelopment possibilities. These open spaces can also be utilized to help promote downtown business such as providing outdoor seating for a café, restaurant, or book store.
A more costly decision is to incorporate LID (low impact design) strategies when performing street, storm sewer, and sidewalk work. For approximately the same cost as traditional construction, LID strategies can reduce the need for storm water infrastructure while improving the street experience. LID is slowly being adopted by communities across the state including Fayetteville and Little Rock. The Portland Green Streets Program has a great deal of information available on their experiences implementing LID strategies.
The downtown related decisions a community makes should promote economic development, community spirit, and a high quality of life for your citizens. The reemergence of downtowns is a trend that will likely continue to grow, and Cromwell has the team and the history to help make these educated decisions. Is it time for your community to reexamine your downtown?