Case Studies

The 12th Street Station Project – Roark, Perkins Perry Yelvington Architects

RPPY Architects brings a sense of security to south Little Rock community

For decades part of Little Rock, Ark., has been crumbling. Since the 1950s, when the interstate that divides the city north and south carved through the area, the 12th Street corridor has steadily decayed, seeing the near end of small business commerce and making way for crime.

Roark, Perkins Perry Yelvington Architects“12th Street, which is south of the interstate, was once a bustling place of commerce for the city, but over the years, as the socioeconomic racial divide between north and south became more prominent, the area became less and less attractive,” tells Van Tilbury of East-Harding Construction, the general contractor heading up the 12th Street Station project.

Over the last several years, the city and community leaders have decided to take action, commissioning a master plan for the revitalization of 12th Street. “There have been five major projects on 12th Street in the last four years, which are all part of the city’s overall master plan, including a children’s library with trails, a greenhouse and garden, renovation to Catholic diocese and a drug and alcohol treatment residence,” shares Tilbury. “All are anchor projects for the 12th Street redevelopment.”

The community watchdog

One of the most defining buildings on the project is the brand-new $12 million Little Rock Police substation. When the project first went to bid, one longtime Little Rock architect felt it his duty to land the job.

Tim Yelvington, principal of Roark, Perkins Perry Yelvington (RPPY) Architects, grew up in Little Rock. “For me, this is home -it’s my city,” he shares. “Although our firm serves clients across the southern U.S., my strong ties to this area and interest in the community really drew me to this project.”

“For many years, 12th Street has been a rough area no one wanted to invest in, but we’re commited to bringing interest back and making 12th Street a better area,” adds Yelvington.

Bringing security and small business back

Founded in 1962 by the late H. Price Roark, RPPY has been designing commercial, retail, state and institutional projects throughout Little Rock, even diversifying into the health care sector, but the 12th Street Substation was a first for the firm. Although this was a first-of-its-kind job for RPPY, Yelvington says the company found a way to leverage its commercial-retail experience, incorporating these components into a mixed-use design.

“When the police station came on board we interviewed for the job and came up with the concept of a mixed-use layout, incorporating the station as well as leased tenant retail space,” details Yelvington.

City and community leaders and even the mayor of Little Rock were receptive to RPPY’s proposal. “Our mixed-use format is what really landed us the job because it matched the overall nature of the 12th Street redevelopment master plan and its goals to bring small businesses and investment back to the area,” explains Yelvington. “Our designs fit with the concept as a whole, but it was a bit of a challenge because we’d never done a police station before.” But with the help of East-Harding Construction RPPY’s plans soon began to take shape.

Contemporary design challenges

Tilbury’s team broke ground on 12th Street Station in July 2013 and the project is now nearing the final stages of completion. “12th Street Station is right in the heart of the corridor between the other anchor projects,” notes Tilbury. “It encompasses a full city block as a 44,000-square-foot; two-story building that houses the Little Rock Police Department’s major crimes division and patrol as well as detective offices.”

To make room for both the LRPD and adjacent detectives, RPPY designed a traditional first floor substation with a more contemporary second floor for detective offices, interview and conference rooms. “There’s also a safe room for tornado shelter,” adds Tilbury. “The lobby area is open on the first floor and the second floor includes lots of skylights to allow for natural light in the large area.”

East-Harding Construction faced a particular challenge on the second story, with an 18-inch raised floor. “All of the HVAC underneath the floor allowed us to keep an exposed ceiling and the city wanted flexibility for the building – moveable walls, no overhead duct work, and space for the furniture- so we made it so the HVAC system can be moved easily. It was a challenge, but overall, good for the long term used of the building.”

To add another layer of complexity, the 12th Street Station is shooting for LEED Silver certification. “Sustainability is important to Little Rock; all city-owned buildings must be certified, but we tried to go a step higher in aiming for LEED Silver,” reveals Yelvington.

RPPY’s LEED accredited personnel and specialized LEED consultant company Viridian worked together throughout the entire design-build process in order to identify ways to lower the costs of building operations, as well as meet the requirements of LEED-certified buildings. According to Tilbury, this should lower the overall long-term costs of the building.

The anchor project is finally nearing completion. “Overall, the total cost including all fees and furnishing is about $14.5 million, but it’s been about $12 million in construction alone,” adds Tilbury. “The project is 100 percent city-tax payer funded; it really demonstrates the city and community’s commitment to the area.”

A reconstructed community

Yelvington says his hope is the 12th Street Station will generate a greater sense of security and therefore, more business throughout the corridor. “What the area really needs is for developers to take a chance on it and I think they’re more apt to do that now that there is a strong source of security,” he explains.

As RPPY marks 52 years serving Little Rock and beyond, Yelvington says there’s great promise in future projects in the 12th Street redevelopment. “We do lots of retail and business occupancy work; it fits our wheelhouse, so we hope to see more of this out of 12th Street,” he says.

As more projects anchor 12th Street and there’s an influx of small businesses, Yelvington is confident a new face of community can reemerged and RPPY Architects is proud to be pivotal in this effort.

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Spring 2018



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