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David Leven and Stella Betts will present a lecture at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, in Ken and Linda Sue Shollmier Hall, Room 250 of Vol Walker Hall, on the U of A campus, as part of the fall lecture series in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

Leven, FAIA, and Betts, Associate AIA, founded LEVENBETTS in 1997 in New York City. The practice has long been engaged with the transformative impact of mindful interventions in the built and natural environment. They are 2022 John G. Williams Distinguished Visitors in Architecture.

Their practice, LEVENBETTS, is one of five architecture firms participating in the exhibition Architecture at Home, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. This outdoor architecture exhibition, located along the Orchard Trail on the museum’s grounds and anchored by R. Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, brings together five 500-square-foot prototypes for homes to spark a dialogue about contemporary housing.

In their lecture, “House of Trees | City of Trees,” Leven and Betts will discuss a combination of open frameworks that they have developed for housing along with expressive explorations in mass timber technologies. To highlight housing and the opportunities of architectural design, Leven and Betts will do a deep dive into the two projects that LEVENBETTS developed for the Architecture at Home exhibition at Crystal Bridges.

“House of Trees” is a timber pavilion built around a southern yellow pine on the Orchard Trail at Crystal Bridges. And “City of Trees” is a housing prototype for nine blocks in Bentonville’s Third Historic District. The two parallel projects are intended to address the twin crises of housing and carbon that plague cities, communities and the planet in the face of the commodified housing market and climate change due to the human induced imbalance in the global carbon cycle.

“House of Trees” is an all-wood structure that dances amongst the trees on its site, creating an immediate connection to the forest. LEVENBETTS sourced sustainably Arkansas-grown timber and worked with local partners across the timber supply chain to mill and process the lumber into cross laminated timber (CLT) and glulam components. These processes enable the structure to be expressive of its materials and technologies, responsive to its environment, replete with open and flexible spaces, and full of changing light qualities throughout the day and seasons. “House of Trees” is both of the forest and situated deeply in the forest.

“City of Trees” proposes inclusive mass timber housing for a quickly developing neighborhood adjacent to downtown Bentonville that exhibits the social, housing and urbanization stresses prevalent in many small-tier American cities. The project rethinks restrictive zoning practices to open up new opportunities for higher density housing, social amenities and new qualities of urban life.

A patchwork infill approach both honors and enhances the existing neighborhood fabric while creating living scenarios that foster shared and individuated ways of living. Advocating for combining available lots within the city block, reinforcing urban natural patterns of trees and water, and innovating with new mass timber technologies and local supply chains, the proposal offers smart methods of urbanization — and community/planet conscious decarbonized building methodologies — while meeting the growing housing needs of the region.

This lecture is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. 

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