- Project Name
- Thaden School Master Plan
- Marlon Blackwell Architects
- Thaden School
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- Shared by
- Andrea Timpano
- Project Status
This project was selected as a winner in AIA's 2023 Regional & Urban Design Awards.
Founded in 2015, the Thaden School in Bentonville, Ark., aims to facilitate learning experiences that keep students connected to the land. Its middle and high school curriculum is divided into three portions: Reels (narrative and visual education), Wheels (physics and mechanics), and Meals (biology, chemistry, and community).
Developed by EskewDumezRipple, Marlon Blackwell Architects, and Andropogon Associates, the school’s master plan responds in kind with four main buildings on a 26-acre site. Not unlike the buildings on area chicken farms, each structure is long and narrow and runs east-west to circumvent overexposure to sunlight and promote natural ventilation. Strategic bends in the buildings create framed exterior gathering spaces, encouraging students to interact with the landscape.
Project: Thaden School Master Plan, Bentonville, Ark.
Owner: Thaden School
Architect: EskewDumezRipple (Phase I - Temporary Campus | Phase II - Meals)
Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architects (Phase II - Reels, Barn | Phase III - Wheels | Phase IV - Performance)
Landscape Architect: Andropogon Associates
Engineer – Civil: Ecological Design Group
Engineer – MEP: CMTA Consulting Engineers
Engineer - Structural: Engineering Consultants Inc. (ECI)
Project Management: Aegis Property Group | WEI
General Contractor: Milestone (Phase I - Temporary Campus | Phase II - Meals, Reels | Phase III - Wheels)
General Contractor: Crossland Construction Company (Phase II - Barn)
General Contractor: Nabholz Construction Company (Phase IV - Performance)
Architectural Lighting: TM Light
Theatre Consultant: Charcoalblue
Signage and Wayfinding: Zetek
This article first appeared in the May/June 2023 issue of ARCHITECT.
The Thaden School is a new independent middle and high school based in Bentonville, Arkansas. “A private school with a public purpose,” the school’s unique curriculum will combine academic excellence with learning by doing. The school will feature three signature programs: Wheels (where the fields of physics and mechanics come alive through the construction and use of bicycles and other wheeled machines), Meals (where biology, chemistry, and community come alive through the growing and preparation of food), and Reels (where narrative and visual communication come alive through the production of film and video). The school’s “whole student / whole body” pedagogy will feature learning opportunities both indoors and outdoors.
The school campus is a 26 acre site just a 10 minute walk from the Bentonville town square, adjacent to the emerging “Arts” and “Market” districts, where many of Thaden School’s community partners will operate. Integrating buildings and landscape, students are provided unique places to learn indoors and outdoors, developing mind and body—the whole student. The “feel” of the campus proposed in this master plan is modeled more on a small college campus than a monolithic middle or high school building. Students are expected to move between buildings over the course of the day, with many classrooms and work areas designed to be able to spill out onto adjacent outdoor areas. The campus brings together the historic home of Bentonville’s aviation pioneer Louise Thaden with state of the art classrooms, labs, landscapes and maker spaces; blending old and new into a rich landscape for learning to promote growth of the whole student.