HOUSING NORTHWEST ARKANSAS: AN IN-DEPTH
EXPLORATION OF HOUSING ISSUES IN OUR REGION

Housing Northwest Arkansas is an initiative led by the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

This three-tiered project includes a design studio focused on students, a regional symposium focused on the community, and a professional design competition. Each of these three components adds to the in-depth exploration of national and regional housing issues of design, zoning, finance, city planning, community development, and community education and engagement. Throughout this exploration, we continue to pursue the goals of educating Fay Jones School students, informing the Northwest Arkansas community, and building a better Northwest Arkansas.


INTRODUCTION

Peter MacKeith, Dean and Professor, Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design

On behalf of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, University of Arkansas, I’d like to welcome you to the Housing Northwest Arkansas Initiative, made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, composed of professional programs in architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design, has a 70-year history of excellence in professional architecture and design education, as well as a history of contributions to the cultural, environmental, and economic development of the state of Arkansas. The work of our alumni and our faculty has extended this dual legacy throughout the region, the nation, and internationally. This dual legacy is now the platform for our work in the school today, whereby our collaborative interdisciplinary emphasis in architecture and design education prepares our students to address issues of imperative value for the state, the nation, and indeed the world. Currently as a school, we are working in the important design territories of resiliency design, community design, preservation design, and design in mass timber, on the basis of identified areas of immediate design value to the state and of transferable value for our graduates in the larger design culture. Housing design is equally a design territory in which we believe the school can contribute to both a regional and a national conversation for the betterment of our society.

The Housing Northwest Arkansas Initiative is a three-tiered project consisting of an advanced design studio focused on education, a regional symposium focused on the community, and a national design competition for professionals focused on advancing the ideas of the studio and the discussions of the symposium into actual development. Each of these three components adds to the in-depth exploration of national and regional housing issues of design, zoning, finance, city planning, community development, and community education and engagement. Throughout this exploration, we continue to pursue the goals of educating Fay Jones School students, informing the Northwest Arkansas community, and building a better Northwest Arkansas.

THE CHALLENGE

Housing in Northwest Arkansas, like much of the United States, has become bifurcated into two housing types: single-family homes and apartments. Single-family homes in the U.S. now have a median size of 2,453 square feet and are often isolated from transportation options, making them unattainable for many families. The average size of apartments in the U.S. is less than 900 square feet, making them unlivable for many families.

Attainable housing addresses the needs of households making 60% to 120% of the median income. This demographic typically doesn’t qualify for government subsidized housing, yet may still struggle to find affordable, available housing options in Northwest Arkansas.

Northwest Arkansas is the 22nd fastest-growing area in the U.S. This project will explore ways to guide that growth through an in-depth exploration and design of a mixed-income, mixed-use attainable housing plan that includes live-work units on a site in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Three Ways to Be Involved