Design Award Entries

Hobbs State Park Trail Structures

Hobbs State Park offers more than 30 miles of trail for every adventurer. These architectural components were designed as vehicles for immersion into the land, fortifying a sense of place and identity. Campsite and trailhead structures are strategically set as a series of sculptural elements. The parabolic shape complements the landscape, blurring lines between architectural elements, art installations and naturally-occurring forms.

Project Statement

State parks as a whole seek to get people on foot or bike to explore nature and their surroundings. These structures are all about getting out to the most beautiful parts of the park, setting the stage for an immersive experience. The design team worked with the client, trail designer and state park personnel to document and evaluate where exceptional key moments should be placed to heighten exceptional geological features, specific views or a unique experience. In order to focus design efforts and the client’s budget, the team focused on two specific experiences: Departure, and Destination.

The goal of the Departure was to create an interaction with artistic elements, while also providing a functional space for pre-ride, and post-ride gatherings. It was important to foster the sense of community that has developed in the mountain bike community in Northwest Arkansas.

For the Destination, the team focused on the state park and trail systems biggest asset - the adjacency to Beaver Lake and subsequent shoreline. We identified an ideal camping spot based on geography, views, and location along the trail. Similar to the trailhead, the design aimed to elevate the experience for the user beyond a typical primitive campsite experience.

The parabolic shape of the Hobbs trail structures complements the landscape, inspired by two naturally-occurring features in Hobbs State Park - sink holes, and rock outcroppings. An innovative parametric design process was utilized by the in-house fabrication team to optimize the design and use the least amount of materials possible. Designers worked directly with fabricators to study and evaluate options, which lead to a seamless process between design and fabrication. Stacked steel tubes were carefully arranged to form the parabolic shape. from a distance, the structures are understood as formal volumes. Up close, though, the stacks create a finer, tactile element to interact with and experience the park's surroundings from a different perspective.

Adventurers along the trails can find themselves between, under or inside the shells. The materials respond to the duality between the monumental scale of the forest, and the granularity of its underbrush. The trailhead offers a welcoming bewelcoming launching and landing point for adventure. It makes the experience one to be shared. The camping structures are what make the Monument Trail at Hobbs State Park a destination. They invite visitors to stop, spend a night and watch the park take on its various looks as it turns from day to night and day again. These sites have been received as an invaluable asset and amenity, with a distinct and distinguishing twist in a state that is already known for outdoor experiences. The structures are recognizable objects along the trail, centering adventurers within the landscape and creating a sense of place.

AIA Arkansas