Over the past eight months, the Jones Trust board and leadership team have been working closely with Denver-based landscape architecture firm, Civitas, Inc., to create a Campus Vision Master Plan that will transform the Center’s outdoor campus and enhance its reputation as a world-class recreational venue.
The Jones Center is redesigning the outdoor spaces of its 52-acre campus with a Design Excellence Grant from the Walton Family Foundation. The Campus Vision Project calls for the addition of new outdoor green spaces, inviting bike paths, public art, infrastructure upgrades and other improvements that will help transform the campus into a regionally connected destination.
“We are grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for awarding the Jones Trust a Design Excellence Grant in September of 2020 to reimagine the Jones Campus to remain relevant and modern in the ever-changing Northwest Arkansas region,” says Kelly Kemp-McLintock, CFRE and Chief Advancement Officer for The Jones Center/Jones Trust.
The Design Excellence Grant awarded $636,500 for Phase 1 of the Campus Vision Project, with 35% of funding for conceptual/schematic designs. Phase 2 grant funding is expected to be awarded this fall for the remaining 65% of the design costs.
With input from a Public Engagement Phase that began in November, the Campus Vision Master Plan calls for the introduction of new native gardens/open green spaces, fitness activities, a plaza lawn for community gatherings and art markets, public art installations, a network of hard and soft-surface trails, and an expanded adventure bike park, all tying the campus to downtown Springdale revitalization efforts and the spine of the Razorback Regional Greenway trail system.
Project Background and Inspiration
When Bernice Jones established The Jones Center in 1995, she intended it to serve Northwest Arkansas families for generations. Bernice had the forward vision to repurpose the former Jones Truck Lines (JTL) Main Terminal Facility — the property she and her late husband, Harvey, owned — into a regional 220,000 square foot recreation and education center. Bernice gave all of their wealth for the betterment of families across this region. She recognized the need for a welcoming and safe destination where people could learn, grow, collaborate, and thrive. More than 25 years later, the Center and its 52-acre campus, continue the philanthropic spirit of founders Harvey and Bernice Jones. Today, The Jones Center welcomes more than half million visitors annually.
The Campus Vision Master Plan proposes a revitalized campus that can adapt to the growing needs of Springdale as well as the Northwest Arkansas region. The master plan was developed with extensive input from the community at both in-person and virtual engagement events, work sessions with Civitas design team, and guidance from The Jones Center/Jones Trust leadership.
“During recent months, we adapted our approach to work within the limitations imposed by the pandemic,” Project Lead Scott Jordan of Civitas said “We modified our methods and engaged the community in socially distant and safe ways. Innovative solutions included drive-through dinner events with 800 free meals prepared by regional chefs as well as virtual design meetings for community members to provide input/feedback.”
“These techniques created an environment that welcomed every participant and provided them with an opportunity to engage in an inclusive and productive manner,” he added. “From this tailored approach, the design team achieved overwhelming success.”
As part of public engagement, three online surveys, each in English, Spanish and Marshallese, garnered responses from over 1,800 respondents, who offered their ideas and feedback about the campus redesign project. Social media interactions, 13 virtual meetings that included more than 300 community members, and in-person community group meetings with over 100 attendees, gave diverse community members a voice and the means to influence design concepts as well.
“Ultimately, the vision for the Jones campus must enable all community members to create memorable experiences and give meaning to the diverse population that makes Springdale unique, bringing them back to campus and downtown Springdale over and over again,” Jordan said.
Ed Clifford, CEO/President of The Jones Center/Jones Trust, said the project takes inspiration and understanding from Bernice Jones’ desire to bring community together and welcome all to The Jones Center and campus.
“When Bernice founded this organization, she welcomed members of all communities, families, ages, and backgrounds,” Clifford said. “She wanted The Jones Center to be a place that fosters acceptance and provides accessibility to health/well-being opportunities for all. We promote Bernice’s vision every day and are excited that our outdoor spaces will be an extension of her initial dream.”
A Meet & Greet Reception was held July 21 in the main lobby of The Jones Center. The community was invited to attend and meet members of the design team, including three area artists who’ve been chosen for the campus redesign project. The three area artists are: Danielle Hatch, Al “Papa Rap” Lopez and Reilly Dickens-Hoffman. “Our leadership team is very excited to introduce members of the newly-expanded landscape and architectural design team, including three regional artists selected through a recent RFQ process supported by CACHE, a regional initiative to promote emerging local artists,” McLintock said. “It’s a wonderful time to learn next steps of the Campus Vision Master Plan.”