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Walton Family Foundation Adds 14 Top Planning Firms, Appoints Julie Bargmann to Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program

April 1, 2024
Inclusion of new firms represents an expansion of the program to include community master plans or land use plans

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (April 1, 2024) – The Walton Family Foundation (WFF) announced 14 planning firms have joined its Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program, bringing the roster of firms to nearly 80 architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and planning firms. The foundation also announced that renowned landscape architect Julie Bargmann would join the Design Excellence Selection Committee.

Established in 2015, the Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program promotes the highest level of design in the development of future public buildings and spaces in Benton and Washington counties. The inclusion of these planning firms represents an expansion of the program to include planning projects, such as community master plans or land use plans, in addition to architecture and landscape architecture design. The selection of its design professionals, projects and program success is guided by four key principles. They include a commitment to strengthening public life, elevating standards of sustainability and resilience, celebrating local cultures and places, and building regional capacity. Notable program projects include TheatreSquared, Railyard Park and Thaden School, all of which have won countless awards, including the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) NY Design Merit Award and Regional and Urban Design Award, American Architecture Award, AIA NY Institutional Honor Award and more.

“We know that planning is the foundation of good design. By expanding the program to include planning professionals, this program will help Northwest Arkansas become one of the most vibrant and inclusive communities in the nation," said Meredith Bergstrom, Walton Family Foundation senior program officer. “With the addition of these firms, we look forward to selecting projects that cast a vision for welcoming public space throughout the region.”

The 14 firms include:

  • APD Urban Planning + Management, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Brooks + Scarpa, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Crafton Tull, Rogers, Ark.
  • David Baker Architects, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Field Operations, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Henning Larsen, New York, N.Y.
  • Interface Studio Architects LLC, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Kronberg Urbanists + Architects, Atlanta, Ga.
  • MBL Planning, Fayetteville, Ark.
  • McCann Adams Studio, Austin, Texas
  • Snøhetta, New York, N.Y.
  • TEN x TEN Landscape Architecture + Urbanism, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • TSW, Tulsa, Okla.
  • Yard & Company, Cincinnati, Ohio

About Julie Bargmann:

Julie Bargmann is a pioneering figure in landscape architecture. She is renowned for her innovative approach to regenerative design and interdisciplinary education. As the founding principal of D.I.R.T. Studio, Bargmann's projects have garnered international acclaim for their transformative impact on neglected landscapes. Her commitment to sustainability and community engagement is exemplified in her portfolio. This includes the revitalization of industrial relics and the creation of interpretative parks on former toxic sites.

“Julie’s commitment to regenerative design aligns with our program's mission to elevate standards of sustainability and resilience,” Bergstrom said. “With Julie's expertise, we look forward to selecting projects that enhance the built environment and inspire positive social and environmental change."

A recipient of the prestigious Oberlander Prize, Julie Bargmann continues to inspire future practitioners through her teaching at the University of Virginia's School of Architecture. Her work has been recognized by institutions such as the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Museum and featured in prominent media outlets like TIME, CNN and Newsweek.

Bargmann graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Landscape Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design.

For more information about the Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence program, visit

About the Walton Family Foundation The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving Education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.