Boys & Girls Clubs of Saline County
A new 51,200 SF facility located over the runway of the old municipal airport in Benton, AR. Functions include game rooms, classrooms, dining room, administrative offices, a large garden, and a gymnasium containing three regulation-size high school basketball courts.
I have lived in Benton, AR my entire life, and owe many good memories from my childhood to the local Boys & Girls Club. Whether doing homework, playing basketball, or simply visiting with friends...the Club provided a place for at least a hundred or so kids to spend their time after school, until their parents finished working. That was in the early 1980's. Some 30 years later in 2014, the Club was still serving the youth of Saline County, though the number had now grown to over 450. The building, unfortunately, had not grown at all and was woefully undersized to handle the demand. Through the efforts of local leaders and Benton's city government, our residents voted for a change. A small sales tax was passed, and our firm was selected to design a new state-of-the-art facility, to be built over the location of the recently-relocated municipal airport.
Club director, Jasen Kelly, had a clear vision for a facility that would feed and entertain over 800 children each day. To establish a sense of place, we were inspired by the old airport, and incorporated an aviation theme throughout the building. The collection of simple forms, soaring roof lines, playful color schemes, catwalks, and balconies combine to create spaces that encourage children to play, dream, collaborate, and learn. 40' tall entrance windows mimic musical notes with colored glass and random, rhythmic mullions. Color-coded piping, hung from the roof structure, educates occupants on the various utilities serving the club. Stair-stepped translucent panels bring in massive amounts of light at all times of day. Airport runways dominate the main entrances at both ends of the building. Lastly, we hung a prized collection of real airplanes from one end to the other...a World War I trainer, a bi-plane, a fabric & tube experimental, and a world speed record holder.
Completed in 2017, the new Boys & Girls Club now comfortably serves 500 children per day, with plenty of room for growth. I am extremely proud to have been a part of this project.
-Brian Black, AIA