By Eric Althoff
BENTONVILLE, Ark.—General contractor Crossland has turned over the first shovelfuls of ceremonial dirt for the new Alice L. Walton School of Medicine, named in honor of the Walmart scioness and funder of the operation.
Personnel were on hand to celebrate commencement of construction at the 154,000-square-foot medical education facility, which will sit on 14 acres of land specifically set aside for training tomorrow’s leaders in medicine. Walton herself delivered remarks at the groundbreaking, as did the school’s founding dean and CEO, Dr. Sharmila Makhija.
The four-level medical education building will feature lecture halls, a library, clinical instruction space, administration offices, student lounge, theater, underground parking as well as recreation areas.
The Walton Medical School is meant to be as one with the surrounding forest lands, which are criss-crossed by trails in this bike-friendly region. Accordingly, designer OSD of New York is incorporating healing gardens, an urban farming space, outdoor classrooms and a rooftop terrace. OSD is working in concert with lead architect Polk Stanley Wilcox of Arkansas on realizing Walton’s grand plans.
“We’re excited about the transformational impact that this site-responsive building and surrounding park will have for the community,” Wesley Walls, principal at Polk Stanley Wilcox, said at the groundbreaking. “And we’re eager to witness how its innovative design will impact and equip future generations of health care professionals and the well-being of Arkansans.”
Upon opening its doors for its premiere class in 2025, the Walton Medical School will offer a four-year degree program that takes a holistic approach to medicine while respecting older, established techniques. The campus will sit adjacent to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, also founded by Walton.