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Despite Coronavirus Pandemic, Construction For New Arts Center Continues On

Daniel Breen

Even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, construction of the new Arkansas Arts Center building in MacArthur Park is still ongoing and according to the center, on schedule. KUAR spoke with Dr. Victoria Ramirez, executive director of the Arkansas Arts Center about the continued work. Below is a transcript of the aired conversation.

Dr. Victoria Ramirez: "If anybody is in the Little Rock area and they’re able to drive by MacArthur Park, they’ll be able to really start to see what the new arts center is going to look like. They’ll see a new wing has been built and that will be dedicated to the Art Center Foundation’s collection... and the presentation of the collection."

"They’ll be able to see these enormous concrete slabs that comprise the new roof line, which is one of the signature aspects of the new building’s design. When Studio Gang designed the new art center, it was really that jagged roof [as] something that they really saw as being one of the focal points of the design and when you drive by you can really see that it’s starting to really take shape."

"And you know, we’re again just really fortunate that everybody at the job sight is staying safe. They’re following the construction protocols that Nabholz and Pepper and Doyne, which are the three construction companies, they’ve put together some pretty stringent protocols and they’re following those. I keep saying to people that it’s just a success story because there are so many unknowns in the world. But one thing that we do know is the new arts center is going to open and it’s going to be a facility and a place that we all can be proud of."

KUAR: "Are there ways that the pandemic has harmed progress at all?"

Ramirez: "Certainly. I think…the uncertainty of 'Will we be able to stay on schedule? Will we receive the materials when we need them?' We’re still in that phase where we are developing plans B and C should materials not arrive when we need them and thus hold up the progress. Fortunately we haven’t had those issues, but it’s a constant concern that something beyond our control can cause a serious delay."

KUAR: "And do you think there might be, kind of a [greater] focus or maybe people are paying attention a little more to the [Arkansas] Art Center right now because it’s continuing its construction amongst so many job losses and so many things that are shut down right now?"

Ramirez: "I think that people are looking for good news and this is definitely a good new story and it’s a tangible story too. You know when we started construction, people saw the demolition, people saw a lot of the work that was being done underground and they may have…you know something is happening at MacArthur Park, but you didn’t really quite see it. But this is something that’s tangible and people can actually go by and see it."

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