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story.lead_photo.caption Dustin Davis (top) and Jason Giocoechea (bottom), with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, and Clayton Bowers, with CDI Construction, work Monday afternoon installing a piece of temporary art in the Carrie Remmel Dickinson Fountain at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock. The piece will be revealed on Thursday evening as part of the 5th Annual Fountain Fest fundraiser. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

The anticipated first look Monday at how the Arkansas Arts Center will be remade was postponed -- for about two months -- so museum officials can work through revisions with the project's designers.

The Arts Center planned to unveil the $60 million-plus project's design during a meeting of the museum's board of trustees yesterday followed by a public reception, but Arts Center Executive Director Todd Herman announced Friday that the reveal would be delayed.

Ongoing talks between museum officials and Chicago-based Studio Gang, the lead architect, are in part focused on what wish-list items to cut and how to stretch the $46 million construction budget, Herman said after Monday's board meeting.

"It's marrying the goals and the desires with budgets," Herman said. "Before we reveal anything, we want to have a pretty good idea of what it is exactly we're presenting and what that costs."

This delay will not affect the project's broader timeline -- which is to begin construction in late 2019 and open the remade museum in fall 2021 -- because officials planned for the possibility of minor setbacks, said Merritt Dyke, president of the board of trustees.

"This happens," Dyke said. "It's nothing to be concerned about. It's just something that we encountered, so we're moving forward with what Studio Gang is preparing for us."

Herman visited Studio Gang's office last week to view a model and 3-D video presentation before offering suggested changes, he said. The Arts Center could have released a "limited" design on Monday, Herman said, but the preference is to wait for more details and present a model that won't undergo major changes.

"What they are working on and developing is really transformational," Herman said. "They've done a fantastic job with creating something that's really eye-catching but also functions extremely well."

The Arts Center's makeover will expand the museum by up to one-third of its current size while tying together disparate wings and rooms built during eight previous expansion and remodeling projects, officials have said.

Studio Gang and the Arts Center are working to set a new date for the design reveal, Herman said. He estimated it would come in two months.

The Arts Center has not yet signed a contract with Studio Gang, which it picked as the lead architectural firm in December 2016, though that should happen within the next couple of weeks, Herman said.

The parties singed a letter of intent in January that authorized Studio Gang to receive up to $1,600 per day in exchange for work, including travel costs.

Construction will be paid for mostly with a $37.5 million general obligation bond sale backed by a voter-approved 2 percentage point increase in taxes on Little Rock hotel stays.

The nonprofit Arkansas Arts Center Foundation, which owns the museum's artwork and controls its endowment, has begun raising money to cover the rest of the anticipated costs, which could reach $66 million when including "soft" costs, such as fees for architects and consultants.

Little Rock City Hall will accept qualifications from potential bond attorneys through Oct. 26.

Metro on 10/17/2017

Print Headline: Arts Center plans' debut delayed over revisions

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