MacArthur Commons is the first new-construction multi-family apartment building in downtown Little Rock in over three decades. This 59-unit complex rests at the edge of two major districts, influenced by high-rise condominiums to the north, and single-family residences to the south. The project provides needed affordable downtown living, while merging urban appeal with community-oriented principles.
MacArthur Commons is the link that connects the revitalized River Market District and the established residential neighborhood of the MacArthur Park Historic District. Positioned along the neglected edge between the two, it was essential to create a project that provided new life to the area, and added a strong connection for activity on the street.
Maximizing the half-block site was key to making the project as economical as possible. Wood construction limited the development to three stories, which moved additional parking and amenities behind the building. An undulating rhythm across the long façade breaks up the building, as deeper cuts signify major points of entry. On the upper levels, the living room volumes are expressed to the outside, pulled up and out with large windows, while the bedrooms are recessed, offering opportunities to span balconies between the protruding volumes. The cantilevered upper levels create a covered porch condition for the walk-up units on the ground floor, which is further enhanced by lifting the building up onto a crawlspace. The brick foundation anchors the project, negotiating the ten feet of fall across the site, while also providing a level of demarcation for tenant/pedestrian interaction.
On the exterior, large sheets of smooth Hardie Panels are painted in a regularized pattern with green ribbons running through the façade, picking up the vibrant colors of the street trees and landscaping. Pre-finished corrugated metal panels run alongside the ribbons, and line the pronounced corners at the ends of the building. Economical vinyl windows are mulled together to create a storefront-like, floor-to-ceiling appearance akin to the neighboring condominiums. The large windows offer expansive views of the tree-filled neighborhood to the south, and the towering skyline to the north and west. The interiors are modest and clean, offering open floor plans to maximize living space. While the city itself is the greatest amenity of all, a fitness room, bike repair station, and pool/deck area have also been inserted into the project to provide local points of recreation, and encourage interaction among residents.
MacArthur Commons is a unique, and much needed addition to its neighborhood. A testament to modern design by way of modest means, the project revitalizes the area by strengthening the community connection.