Design Award Entries

8th Street Gateway Park

The 110-acre 8th Street Gateway Park is a new center for community recreation and urban nature for Bentonville and a beginner mountain bike destination for Northwest Arkansas. This new regional park will contribute to Bentonville’s quality of life through a focus on four interrelated elements: play, connectivity, ecology, and community. The new park enhances the city’s ecological resources and is the western anchor of Bentonville’s planned 25-mile open space network.

Project Statement

The master plan for 8th Street Gateway Park organizes the site into three principal sub-areas of approximately 25-35 acres each. These areas include the neighborhood-oriented West Park; the mountainbike- and water-shed-focussed East Park; and the regional civic destination of the Park Core. Each Sub Area has its own unique identity defined by a discrete set of programs and landscape characteristics, anchored by newly installed park landings — concentrated areas of arrival, structured program, and extensive planting.

The West Park Landing — or The Porch — is focused on serving the growing neighborhoods adjacent to the west and south of Gateway Park. It is designed as a new venue where the local community gathers, socializes, and recreates. The Porch includes a small plaza for markets and food trucks, a balance bike course, as well as areas for picnicking and neighborhood-oriented structured play. The 5,000-square-foot plaza at the center of the landing is anchored by a small pavilion comprising restrooms and a concession area within a larger canopy structure that frames views out to the Great Lawn. The Porch comprises areas of hardscape, stabilized stone fines, and turf, with extensive areas of understory planting. A newly planted tree canopy provides shade while defining the ridge-line that separates the Great Lawn to the west from the rolling hillside pasture to the east.

The East Park is focused on biking, ecological enhancement, and education. Substantial new tree planting furthers the woodland character of East Park with an upland woodland established north of 8th Street and a floodplain woodland further enhanced to the south side of 8th Street. New Mountain bike trails weave throughout, with a concentration of signature trails north of 8th Street. South of 8th Street, East Park interventions are focused on water quality improvements and stream enhancements, creating a unique educational setting to learn about the region’s watersheds and ecology. Regrading around existing trees to preserve the existing canopy, a wet filtration garden is established with walks at its periphery. The Gateway Ring provides an elevated crossing over 8th Street at two points to allow pedestrian movement between the north and south sections of East Park. Both ends of each bridge spring from new landscape berms providing a constant, gentle slope that establishes a visual band arcing through the landscape.

Melissa Drive bisects the Park Core area, with each side characterized by a distinct landscape experience. The east side of Melisa Drive is primarily passive and is dominated by a meadow with loose tree planting. The southern portion of this area is the Pet Resource Center, being developed by others. Flanking the west side of Melissa, just south of 8th Street, is the Park Core Landing — The Yard — the most developed and heavily programmed portion of the park. Lying along the north east portion of The Yard is a 1-acre playground. To the south of The Yard lies a 1-acre wheel sports garden. West from The Yard and playground, the landscape gently slopes down to the tree-lined creek bed separating the West Park from the Park Core.

AIA Arkansas