Firm's Designs Revitalize Past, Embrace Future

Firm's Designs Revitalize Past, Embrace Future

This article was published in the May 2010 edition of Arkansas Business Profiles.

arbusiness_profiles_article Stand with architect Gary Clements outside his firm's office on Main Street in North Little Rock's historic Argenta district, and you'll get a history lesson. Up and down the revitalized neighborhood's main artery are projects Clements & Associates helped restore to their former glory.

The full-service design firm's own offices, in fact, are in the Barth-Hempfling House at 507 Main Street, "the oldest house in North Little Rock," Clements notes. When Clements' firm designed other restored space for its former tenants, the historic structure became available and Clements & Associates moved in.

Past Is Prologue

Clements has a passion for historic preservation work – he's served on the North Little Rock Historic District Commission for 17 years – and his firm boasts a long list of impressive projects in that specialty. But by no means is that Clements & Associates' sole niche.

"We specialize in historic preservation, but that's a very limited field in a market our size," Clements said. "So we are much more broad-based."

Visible proof is the new Student Village at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, two new residential halls that encompass 12 four-story houses. It includes 92 private and semi-private suites, housing more than 350 students. The firm also designed First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla., and ecclesiastical work has become a specialty for Clements & Associates.

"Our firm is licensed to do work in eight other states besides Arkansas," Clements said. "We don't pursue work out of state, but we do follow clients who go other places."

Better Not Bigger

Closer to home, the firm's design skills are on display at a variety of well-known public places.

"We have been working at the State Capitol Building, on one thing or another, continuously since 1985," Clements said. "Right now we're working for the Secretary of State and House of Representatives. We're working in the north gallery, where the infrastructure was last redone in the 1960s."

After working at a larger local firm, then working as a one-man company, Clements has learned that his current seven-person firm is a great size that "lets us provide the type of services and the type of personal attention that peolple want," he said.

"You can be a seven-person firm and do this," he said, pointing at the artist's rendering of the OBU dormitory complex that is now reality.

Clements & Associates also designed an office addition for the Pulaski County Road and Bridge Department that met "green building" standards, allowing it to be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Blue-Chip Projects

In the early years of his firm's history, its architectural influence was clearest in historic preservation work in Clements' hometown, from helping turn the old Owens Funeral Home building into law offices and residential space to reworking a former pawn shop into the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce Building and designing a restroom facility at the historic Old Mill.

But as the firm grew and its expertise has expanded Clements & Associates has compiled an impressive portfolio of blue-chip projects that include the master planning of the River Trail recreational promenade that stretches along the north shore of the Arkansas River, the Plantation Agriculture Museum in Scott, Memorial Hall at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Delta Supply in North Little Rock, Village Park Residential Care Facility in Conway, Fellowship Bible Church in Conway and First Baptist Church in Mayflower.