Winthrop Rockefeller Conference Center and Lodge
Petit Jean Mountain, AR
The facility was established by the late Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller in 1953 as a home and working farm after his move to Arkansas from New York. Donated to the state in 2005, the converted Winthrop Rockefeller Institute now includes conference space, dining, culinary institute, lecture space, interpretive gallery, offices, and reception areas – in existing buildings; and a new lodge and sustainable barn. Through this sensitive intervention, the spirit of the farm is retained, while offering visitors a world-class experience and a sense of history of the place.
The bones of the farm were retained and informed the language of the renovation, drawing cues from the industrial-style steel and concrete farm building, not typical to rural Arkansas. Rustic materials were added for warmth. Interiors are informal and clean, mixing contemporary furnishings with a warm yet industrial-feeling palette. Existing clerestory lighting was retained, further enlivening major public spaces.
The 17,452 SF lodge frames the corner of the conference center’s garden with both a central focal point of public lobby space and private wings of guestrooms. The building works to harmonize with the site by turning the focus of the building towards its surroundings and creating spaces to view out while providing a comfortable environment.
This project was the recipient of the 2009 Arkansas Preservation Outstanding New Construction in a Historic Setting Award for its transformation, through adaptive use, of the Rockefeller home and farm into a conference center.