One company has taken a unique approach to a school’s design by asking a few essential questions: What does the land need? What does the community need? How can every element of the design work together to enrich ecology? The hope is that the natural world will thrive around the building with the design showing how all aspects can come together to create a whole. This is the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine.

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A view of the proposed healing gardens

OSD, the firm behind the project, works with engineers, economists and scientists. They are urban designers, landscape architects and architectural designers. To design this school in Bentonville, Arkansas, OSD also worked with the architect firm Polk Stanley Wilcox. Moreover, the school will provide a four-year medical degree program. And as for the building, it will boast a 154,000 square foot space and open in the fall of 2025.

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A view of the wetlands in the area

“The School of Medicine is poised to be an inspiring learning environment that supports well-being, emphasizes innovation, and equips future physicians to be the agents of change. We are excited to help pave the way for the next generation of holistic physicians and health professionals. This unique, site-responsive building will welcome students, staff and visitors alike to explore this beautiful campus, serving a broader vision of enhancing the quality of life in our region and beyond,” said Alice Walton, founder of the school, in a press release.

An urban farm at the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine

In addition, the campus will connect to the surrounding woodlands and the Ozarks. A network of trails will then lead to the nearby Whole Health Institute and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Further, the impact of nature on the spirit, body and mind were considered during the design phase. To satisfy the whole, the campus will include a woodland meditation garden, foraging and healing gardens, a wetland, outdoor classrooms, urban farming areas and a rooftop terrace connecting an amphitheater and cafe with multiple balconies.

A cafe terrace surrounded by foliage

The paths will also be surrounded by plants and flowers and shaded by trees. Nature is all around; it’s part of the design, not something separate from it. Paths will then cut across water and meadows, providing stunning views and a genuine connection with the natural world. In fact, everything about the campus is a classroom of sorts. The Alice L. Walton School of Medicine is a showcase of nature while sharing how people and nature can coexist in perfect harmony.

Being on campus is all a part of the learning experience, and hopefully, the knowledge gained here will soon spread around the world.


Images via OSD and Polk Stanley Wilcox