Interview with David Wright, City of Bentonville Parks & Recreation
For more than 50 years Design Workshop has provided landscape architecture, planning, urban design, and strategic services to clients in North America and throughout the world. We are committed to creating special places that meet today's needs and are sustainable environments that will live on for generations. We wouldn’t have been able to work on all these incredible projects without our clients. Today, we would like you to meet one of these amazing clients – David Wright, Director, at City of Bentonville Parks & Recreation. For the last 4 years, we have had the honor of working with David and his team on the Quilt of Parks, A Street Promenade project in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. Here's what he had to say about the project's benefit to his city and his experience working with Design Workshop:
Why is Bentonville Parks and Recreation’s A Street Promenade Project needed today?
Downtown Bentonville used to close at 5pm when all the office workers went home. Our team, along with other local organizations, have been working for more than a decade to activate the downtown core outside of business hours with festivals, farmer’s markets and economic development efforts to bring in more retailers and restaurants. I’m proud to say that we have been incredibly successful in bringing people back downtown. We are fortunate to have five beautiful public spaces throughout downtown, but they lack connectivity making each one a separate destination. We also do not have a central public gathering space that can fit the 10,000-plus people attending our Friday night festivals or Saturday morning farmer’s market. To enhance connectivity among our five downtown public spaces and provide a sizeable and safe space for people to gather, we came up with the idea of the A Street Promenade. When completed, it will be a linear, pedestrian-oriented space allowing our community safe, easy access to recreation opportunities in the various parks and public spaces throughout downtown.
What impact do you expect the A Street Promenade to have on the residents of Bentonville?
Our downtown square has become the personality of Bentonville. As the home of Walmart’s corporate offices, we have been fortunate to see immense growth in the last few decades. We want to remain a great place to not only work, but to live. The A Street Promenade will give a further sense of place to downtown Bentonville offering a social setting for our residents to be part of a community, spend time with their neighbors and enjoy all that our beautiful city has to offer. As a city, our goal is to have people that may move here originally for a job, choose to call Bentonville home for many years to come.
Why did you select Design Workshop to lead this project?
Design Workshop was one of several firms provided to us by the Walton Design Excellence Program. Part of our interview process included going out to visit the Houston studio to meet the team and see the Midtown District project that the Design Workshop team led. We were immediately impressed with what they had done to connect the District, making it more pedestrian-oriented and providing places for the community to gather. Not only were we impressed with their visionary city planning capabilities but we could easily see ourselves working with the Design Workshop team.
What do you enjoy the most about working with Design Workshop?
The Design Workshop team is visionary, detail-oriented and professional. They are willing to look outside the boundaries of the project and evaluate how one decision in a project result in potential opportunities or problems for the surrounding community. When planning, designing and implementing a project like the A Street Promenade, it is paramount that you view the project as a piece of the larger fabric of the community. Design Workshop has no problem doing this. And, on top of their capabilities, we really enjoy the people of Design Workshop. We look forward to our calls and meetings because we like each other. It allows us to have incredible collaboration that will result in a better project, one that will last for years to come.