To be built in Bentonville, AR, the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine will create a new paradigm of medical education that integrates conventional medicine with holistic principles and self-care practices. Founded in 2021 by philanthropist Alice Walton, the School of Medicine will offer a four-year, medical degree-granting program.
New York-based multidisciplinary studio OSD and Arkansas-based firm Polk Stanley Wilcox have been selected as the landscape architects and lead architects for the first-of-its-kind medical school designed to help students rise to the health challenges of the 21st century. Currently in the design development phase, construction of the 154,000-square-foot facility will begin in Spring 2023, with the goal of completing and welcoming the first class in Fall 2025, pending accreditation.
“The School of Medicine is poised to be an inspiring learning environment that supports well-being, emphasizes innovation, and equips future physicians to be agents of change. We are excited to help pave the way for the next generation of holistic physicians and health professionals,” said Walton. “This unique, site-responsive building will welcome students, staff, and visitors alike to explore this beautiful campus, serving a broader vision of enhancing quality of life in our region and beyond.”
Conceived as an extension of Crystal Bridges’ forest, trails connect the school’s campus with surrounding woodlands and the Ozarks at-large as well as adjacent arts institutions, creating a link between art, nature, and healing for a holistic learning environment. Through the network of hiking and biking trails, students can reach the school’s sister organization, Whole Health Institute, or the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, designed by Marlon Blackwell Architects and Safdie Architects, respectively.
“Designing the landscape for the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine truly requires an integrative approach that considers the experience, influence and impact of nature on the mind, body and spirit,” commented Simon David, Founding Principal and Creative Director, OSD. “The project offers an exciting new paradigm of healing and learning environments that holistically blends building and landscape to create a deeply rooted connection to the Bentonville community, the world-class arts environment of Crystal Bridges, and the wider ecosystem and magic of the Ozarks.”
OSD’s proposal for the outdoor features of the rooftop park and surrounding site focus on holistically integrating the building with the woodlands of Crystal Bridges. The landscape also features a woodland meditation and foraging and healing gardens, wetland, outdoor classrooms, urban farming space, and a rooftop terrace that connects to balconies, a cafe, and an amphitheater.
The building’s front corner elevates above the ground, creating a protective canopy that allows community access through and onto the building. Whether arriving by foot, bicycle, or vehicle, the campus invites students and visitors under the abstracted “bluff shelter” on the building’s public façade facing J Street.
“The design integrates the building into both the site and the community, engaging the land as an abstraction of Ozark geology that embraces the principles of integrated medicine, and the holistic link between mental, physical, and spiritual well-being,” added Wesley Walls, AIA, Principal, Polk Stanley Wilcox.
Name: Alice L. Walton School of Medicine
Size: 154,000-square-foot building and surrounding site
Location: Bentonville, AR
Collaborators: OSD (Landscape Architect), Polk Stanley Wilcox (Architect), Henderson Engineers (MEPF & Low Voltage Engineer), Martin / Martin Consulting Engineers (Structural & Building Envelope Engineer), SOM (Sustainability Consultant), Two Twelve (Signage Consultant), JME Hospitality (Food Service Consultant)