Murphy Arts District

  • Client

    • El Dorado Festivals & Events, Inc.
  • Project Type

Design Achievement – A former oil boomtown, El Dorado, Arkansas has a rich history, unique historic architecture, and a well-established arts and entertainment community, which includes the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the South Arkansas Arts Center, and numerous successful music festivals. Community leaders sought to develop these assets into a regional draw and community anchor. The intent is to improve the quality of life and re-brand the community as a cultural performance mecca, while also slowing the decline in population (currently at 18,500) and revitalizing the local economy. DLR Group|Westlake Reed Leskosky's master plan and design leverages existing historic assets, including the National Register-listed Rialto Theatre, five other legacy structures, and new construction, to create a multi-venue downtown arts and entertainment district that preserves and celebrates the unique identity of El Dorado while appealing to contemporary audiences and future generations. The master plan co-locates facilities and performance venues in a dense cluster to maintain the historic connection from Jefferson Street to Locust Street and to exploit synergies among the venues and other entertainment uses.

Scope Summary - Implemented in phases, the project encompasses a 125,868 SF site and comprises a 7,000-patron festival venue/amphitheater, a 2,000-seat indoor music venue, a 100-seat black box/multi-purpose room, an 850-seat multi-use theater, a restaurant/club with stage, a visual arts facility, a farmers' market, a children's activity center, a park, and considerable site improvements for festivals along with new structures to support that use. The plan re-imagines three abandoned, historic, 1920s structures -- all connected at ground level by new construction. Phase 1 constructed the new amphitheater and support facilities and transformed the historic Griffin Auto Building (two-level, historic filling station, automotive showroom/repair shop) into a restaurant and flat-floor, indoor music venue. Future phases will renovate the Rialto Theatre with an expanded stagehouse to house the South Arkansas Symphony, and local and regional companies, and to serve as a presenting house for traveling shows. Featuring a flexible pit/forestage lift, the Rialto can convert into a black box. The McWilliams Building (four-story, former furniture store/warehouse), will be adapted as a center for visual arts, artists-in-residence, arts education programs, and offices. The Trinca Building (single-story former bus depot), will function as a reception space. The project utilized state and federal historic tax credits for project equity. DLR Group|WRL provided master planning, architecture, interior design, MEP and structural engineering, theater technical, audiovisual, acoustical, and IT/security services.

DLR Group acquired Westlake Reed Leskosky in September 2016. Today, the combined design expertise and resources of Westlake Reed Leskosky and DLR Group serve clients as a global, integrated design firm committed to elevating the human experience through design.

Awards & Recognition

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  • Category 1: Newly Completed Buildings, Additions, Remodelings, Renovations, Restorations

    2018 AIA Ohio Design Awards

Murphy Arts District

El Dorado Festivals & Events, Inc.