How HFA’s Civil Engineers and Landscape Architects Laid the Groundwork for Bentonville’s First Bikeable Building
It's not every day you can say that you had a hand in designing a bikeable office building, but for a group of HFA's civil engineers and landscape architects, that's precisely the case. In early 2019, HFA was fortunate enough to gain the opportunity to provide our services, allowing our multi-functional team to make history, laying the groundwork for what would come to be known as the Ledger, nestled in the heart of downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.
Drive through the Bentonville square on any given day, rain or shine, and you're bound to see a handful of cyclists speeding through town, in search of their next great ride. With more than 130 miles worth of trails spread throughout the region, it's no wonder the idea for a bikeable office building has become more than just a pipe dream.
Taking a Closer Look at the Ledger
The Ledger is a massive undertaking at six stories tall, comprised of 230,000 square feet of flexible office and retail space. This fully-bikeable concept allows tenants and visitors alike to bike all six stories to the rooftop and back down again. In recent years, Bentonville has become known as "the mountain biking capital of the world," and much of the local workforce is transitioning to biking to work. Therefore, the design team behind the Ledger knew this elevated bike-to-work option of the building would become a significant selling point for employers and employees. Cyclists and pedestrians can enjoy the path weaving up the façade of the building, with all 3,900 linear feet being accessible for all.
Construction for the Ledger began in early 2021 and should be completed and ready for occupants soon. However, before this design could come to fruition, HFA's civil engineers had to collaborate with the architect, owner, and the city of Bentonville. This coordination included preparing the site for the future building by relocating existing utilities and stormwater structures and constructing new structures of both. This along with coordinating the design to meet the owner’s needs, as well as blending the design with the surrounding properties allows us to make the owner’s vision a reality and a safe space for all who come by foot or wheels to visit the project.
Laying the Groundwork
Before any construction project can truly begin, one must consult a highly trained group of civil engineers to ensure that the project has the necessary utilities placed to service the building and contribute to the betterment of the surrounding community in years to come.
“Imagine a giant game of Tetris. You have buildings, trees, and streetscapes above ground and electrical, gas, sewer, water, and storm lines below ground. It is our job to figure out how to get all the pieces to fit together,” said Wendy Wert, Landscape Architect at HFA.
Because of the sheer size of the Ledger and the adjacent parking garage that will accompany it, our team had a lot of ground to cover, starting with the proper relocation of stormwater and both public and private utilities that would conflict with the future building. This was done while simultaneously adhering to code as well as the Downtown Bentonville Master Street Plan.
“To begin the design process on a project of this magnitude, you first have to know where you’re going. What are the options to get there? Once you figure out what is your top priority, you start there and work your way down the list and figure out how things get laid out,” Wert added.
Due to its proximity to Bentonville’s downtown square, our civil engineering team had to be very strategic when accounting for the various utilities and determine how to fit the Ledger on the site while accounting for, or rerouting, all the existing utilities. One of the most significant adjustments made during our work with the Ledger's utilities was installing a new water main, which in the years to come will loop and provide better water pressure not just for the Ledger but for the surrounding areas, as well.
Another challenge was finding the best and most effective way to coordinate with the various city departments. By addressing this concern and setting up multiple touchpoints that allowed for collaboration, we were able to ensure each department was happy with the site plan and felt that their voices had been heard. An all-encompassing in-person meeting early in the process was a necessity. All city departments were represented and had the ability to communicate specific needs or obstacles so our team could appease concerns or problem-solve to make the process as seamless as possible.
"As far as utilities, we've done our job well as civil engineers if you don't notice them. If we did our job correctly, you shouldn't see a bunch of utilities everywhere; it should be cohesive and strategically placed well outside of the pedestrian realm," said Wert.
What’s Next for the Ledger?
As construction nears its end in 2022, one of the final pieces of the puzzle will be coming back in and designing the streetscapes that pedestrians and users of the building will interact with daily. From sidewalks to curbs, planters, benches, the all-important bike racks (hello, bikeable building!), and more, our team of civil engineers is excited to have a hand in readying the Ledger for the public and giving them something to enjoy for years to come.
To learn more about our work with The Ledger, feel free to contact Wendy Wert, Landscape Architect. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The renderings included are owned, shared, and provided by The Ledger. For more information about this project, contact email@example.com.