Stephen Luoni, Graycen Colbert Bigger, and Jonathan Rhodes Present City in the Woods

Stephen Luoni, Graycen Colbert Bigger and Jonathan Rhodes presented 'City in the Woods: John Cooper, Sr., Cherokee Village, Arkansas, and the Founding of the American Retirement Community' at 6 p.m. Thursday, November 4, at the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. The Pryor Center Presents lecture series is part of the Pryor Center's expanded mission of education, research, and outreach.

Luoni is director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC) where he is the Steven L. Anderson Chair in Architecture and Urban Studies and a Distinguished Professor of architecture. In this presentation, Luoni discusses how John Cooper, Sr. triangulated influences from the nineteenth-century American camp meeting movement, the new land sales industry, and regional modernism in creating a sense of place integral to the Ozark foothills landscape.

Bigger, assistant vice president of Community Development for Farmers & Merchants Bank and Executive Director of the Northeast Arkansas Intermodal Authority, talks about the National Endowment of the Arts matching grant awarded to Cherokee Village in 2020 and explains how cultural mapping will inform planning approaches. 

Rhodes talks about growing up in Cherokee Village. Now president of American Land Company, he leads the company’s efforts to bring new development to the town of Cherokee Village.Stephen Luoni’s work at UACDC specializes in interdisciplinary public works projects combining landscape, urban, and architectural design. Under his direction since 2003, UACDC’s design and research have won more than 170 awards, all for urban design, research, and education. Luoni was appointed a 2012 United States Artists Ford Fellow. He has a BS in Architecture from Ohio State University and a Master of Architecture from Yale University. 

Graycen Colbert Bigger, a Northeast Arkansas native, is passionate about rural development and building strategic partnerships across the state. Her community commitments include Arkansas Division of Higher Education Coordinating Board, Arkansas Economic Developer and Chamber Executives Board of Directors, North Delta Community Foundation, and the Spring River Innovation Hub. Bigger has bachelor’s degrees in the history of art and photojournalism from Arkansas State University and a Master in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York. 

Jonathan Rhodes leads King-Rhodes & Associates, Inc., his family's real estate and property management businesses. Prior to returning to his hometown, he enjoyed a 15-year career in the public sector. Rhodes serves as President of the Arkansas PBS Foundation Board and is a founding member of the Arkansas Master Planned Community Alliance. Rhodes has a bachelor's degree from Hendrix College and a Master in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia.

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