Arkansas Building Features Epic 3,900-Foot Bike Ramp

All six floors will be accessible via an exterior bikeable and walkable path.

Bicycle Building in evening

Courtesy of WeWork

Remember WeWork? The short-term office company always had a flair for design, with a talented team that included Christian Callaghan, Haruka Horiuchi, and Michel Rojkind. They worked with Marlon Blackwell Architects, known for its work designing sensitive and affordable buildings in Arkansas. The design of The Ledger in Bentonville, Arkansas was going to be 230,000 square feet of very cool WeWork space.

overall building view
Courtesy WeWork

It has a 3,900-foot long ramp for bicycles switchbacking up the facade to all six floors—how cool is that?

There were some bumps and turns in the road bringing this project to fruition, notably the dramatic implosion of WeWork in 2019, which is no longer involved with the project. However, the developer, Josh Kyles, tells the local TV station: "Our goal from day one was to provide Bentonville with a Class A workplace that goes beyond just an office building to connecting directly with the growing community in Northwest Arkansas. And, construction continues to track on schedule despite the ongoing pandemic."

Kyles told a local business paper it is business as usual in the use of the building for short-term rental. “Our goal is to be there for anybody from one person to 1,000 people,” Kyles told Talk Business. “I think that’s been underserved. If you were a small office, your options were not nearly as versatile. We saw that with other projects done [in Bentonville] that were never meant to be offices but ended up being multi-use as offices or meetings for one or two people. We want to feed that market.”

Interior of building
Courtesy WeWork

That may be an optimistic view, given how the pandemic has changed the way people work, but this certainly beats a room in the basement with all that window and high ceilings. Perhaps in reaction to the pandemic and people's frustrations from working alone, the press release notes: "The design also facilitates opportunities for focused concentration, collective interaction, and communal gathering, fostering myriad ways of working. Throughout the building, natural light, views of the city, and outdoor access–with open-air terraces on every floor–enrich user experience."

American architect Marlon Blackwell, who knows his bikes, having designed an award-winning bike barn, describes the venture in a statement:

“The Ledger continues our collective dedication to creating environmentally responsive projects that emphasize positive user experience and wellbeing through links to nature within the built environment. We are grateful for the immense contributions to the project by Michel Rojkind, Christian Callaghan, and Haruka Horiuchi, all of whom acted as equal design partners from the project's inception to its construction."
structure of building
Courtesy Mark Jackson

Mexican architect Michel Rojkind describes the virtues of the building, on the day of the completion of the structure:

“Today’s topping out ceremony not only celebrates a dynamic, vibrant building in downtown Bentonville, but also the flexibility and resiliency needed in workplace design, especially following the pandemic. A typology that shifts the inside out, blurring the boundaries between where the street ends and the building begins, assures the intricacies of pedestrian life are lifted into the building as a continuation of the lively streets. But most importantly, the Ledger represents the coming together of amazing minds and human beings, and shows a glimpse of the future in how buildings, people, and the environment should seamlessly interlace.”
close look at ramp
Courtesy WeWork

Bike ramps have to be wide and shallow, with lots of room at the end to turn around. This one looks quite comfortable, and thoughtfully provides areas to the side that are flat where you can sit without getting run over by a cyclist, although that doesn't appear to be on every level.

bike video ramp
Ledger Bentonville

When you watch this video of what looks like Egan Bernal racing to do a delivery, one might give walking on the ramp second thoughts. Here is another video that gives a better idea of how the ramps are designed.

Steven Fleming
Steven Fleming Bicycle building

We have been discussing bicycle-accessible buildings on Treehugger for a while, but most of them, like Professor Steven Fleming's Velotopia, are conceptual. It is wonderful to see the real thing ramp up.