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Onward Ozarks | XNA Improvements

The Northwest Arkansas Council is a nonprofit that has been serving the region for over 30 years developing and maintaining the needs and goals of the community. Their focus is on advancing job opportunities, talent recruitment, physical infrastructure, health care and quality of life. In an effort to engage the community and provide organizations a means to share information with the region, the NWA Council started a new quarterly speaker series called Onward Ozarks. This series features local organizations, companies, and individuals and give them the platform to share news, events, updates, and other information.  

The first meeting took place on April 28th and featured the Northwest Arkansas National
Airport renovation and expansion project. The speakers were Larry Perkin and Shayan Dehbozorgi with Hight Jackson Associates, the architectural firm overseeing the project at XNA. They were able to provide an in-depth overview of the proposed expansion and renovations that the airport needs. XNA has seen an increase in travelers as they have expanded destination locations and as the overall population of the NWA region continues to grow. 

Speakers, Perkin and Dehbozorgi, focused on two main improvements to XNA, connecting the parking deck to TSA and a new entrance into the airport. Both of these improvements are to enhance passenger experience. The first improvement, connecting the parking deck to TSA, is needed for the safety of passengers. The parking deck is public parking and will feature an enclosed skybridge to the TSA checkpoint once the improvements are completed. Another focus is increasing safety for passengers making their way from the economy lot into the building. Hight Jackson plans to improve the walkway to the front entrance and enhance the landscaping to reflect the scenery of our region. 

The front entrance of the airport has been known to experience congestion during peak times of travel, specifically around the escalator leading up to TSA. Based on the renderings shown during the presentation, the new entrance will feature an open, bright design with elements that incorporate the nature and landscape of our region. A huge part of the design aspect involving this project is traveler experience. A majority of travelers coming to XNA are here for business or just passing through, so it is important that they are able to get a glimpse of what Northwest Arkansas is about even if they can’t leave the airport. Perkin and Dehbozorgi mentioned they are trying to create a “sense of place” in the airport and telling a story about Northwest Arkansas. 

Some other additions to the airport include a conference room/event space that can seat up to 400 people. There will also be updates to the drop off and pick up area to enhance safety and relieve congestion. The canopy design reflects that of an airplane, similar to the design of XNA as a whole. The start date of this project is dependent upon board approval which could happen sometime this summer. Pending approval, construction could take up to two years. 

Reflecting on the Onward Ozarks presentation, we are excited for the future speakers and topics! The event was held on Zoom with about 75+ people in attendance. At the end of the presentation there was an opportunity for questions from the audience which was awesome to see engagement from listeners. We enjoyed our morning tuning into the Onward Ozarks event hosted by the Northwest Arkansas Council and are looking forward to what comes next!

Renderings courtesy of Hight Jackson Associates

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