NLR Downtown Public Space

Posted on 09/25/2017

North Little Rock (September 25, 2017)

Click here to see fly over video.

With the rapid increase of new apartments, luxury condos, and planned office developments, the North Little Rock City Council unveiled the city’s design for a new public space along Main Street. The yet unnamed project will have several features designed to promote North Little Rock as a great place to live, such as:

  • Distinctive water features
  • Relaxed “front porch” area along the street
  • Fully equipped performance area/stage
  • Design inspired by city’s history with the Arkansas River

Mayor Joe Smith explained the allure the project has with developers. “In my nearly 30 years of working for our city this is going to be the biggest economic development generator we have ever done. We haven’t even broke ground yet and we have more than $40 million in pledged or recent development surrounding the site, just because people know it’s coming,” said Smith.

The project lacks a name and Mayor Smith announced that the City would be holding a public contest to help choose the perfect moniker. “The plaza will serve as the front porch for our city and provide great curb appeal to visitors. Since it belongs to everyone in the city we want everyone to have an opportunity to help us name it,” announced Smith. Details on the contest will be announced later this week.

The Plaza design was produced by a partnership of TAGGART/Architects, a local design firm, and DLANstudio out of Brooklyn, New York. Bill Gray of TAGGART/Architects said, “We are excited to see this project coming to fruition, and honored to be a part of the team bringing this world class venue to North Little Rock.”

Funding for the Plaza will utilize existing funds, most of which have been saved over the past five years, using the sale of city owned property. Much of the property was sold because the developers expected the funds to go towards the Plaza design and construction. A final cost of the project has not yet been calculated.

Additional Information

Background info on Architects:

DLANDstudio is an interdisciplinary design firm founded in 2005 by Susannah C. Drake. The firm provides an integrated approach to planning, programming and design. The firm is committed to creating projects with a strong conceptual basis drawn from an understanding of the place, the client, the program, and appropriate construction techniques. Our goal is to create beautifully designed, ecologically intelligent, and well executed projects that work well at the large scale and are executed in rigorous detail.

TAGGART/Architects has been involved professionally and personally in helping to create special places in Downtown North Little Rock for 18 years. The firm was established in 1974, quickly earning a reputation for producing high-quality, functionally efficient, budget-conscious architecture that gratifies and inspires the end user. We believe that good design is a result of focused listening, interpretation and execution. We also strive to eliminate stress and make the design and construction process a pleasurable experience for all involved.


We wanted the space to be born of this place, and were inspired by the city’s relationship with the river and its environment. We knew this place had to be about water and celebration. The design incorporated patterns like oxbow lakes and the city grid. It has spaces to rest and play, to greet neighbors or have a picnic, or even listen to music or watch a show. We want this to be the city’s new front door.


The central interactive water feature is inspired by nearby oxbow lakes created by the Arkansas River. These lit and automated fountains will be an amazing place for both children and adults to enjoy.

Water Wall:

The 50ft long freestanding water wall is what takes this public space to another level. This water feature will be lit and automated to create a spectacle visible from Main Street, and the best part is, you can interact with this one too.

Front Porch:

One thing that is notable about North Little Rock is how friendly people are here, they are always happy to stop and chat for a spell. We knew any public space for this city would need a place in the shade for a neighborly conversation. Nestled up to the street side, the front porch is as suitable for a weekday lunch as an outdoor event headquarters.

Stage A/V:

The stage and screen wall allowed us to create an area for entertainment of many different scales. The stage will handle concerts, plays, and more, while the screen wall will be able to project movies, sports, and digital artwork.

Back Yard:

One thing we heard from area residents more than any other, is that they wanted some green space. The back yard berms will be a great place for anything from a family picnic to a game of king of the hill.