Petit Jean State Park Visitor Center


Morrilton, Arkansas

Building Excellence By

Constructing a facility respectful of its historical and natural setting in a respectful way.

Petit Jean is the flagship of the Arkansas State Park system and Kinco Constructors was honored to be selected for the construction of their new Visitor Center.  The proposed location of the new facility was where once famed Hardison Hall stood. It was a concrete structure with stone exterior and also an assembly hall/recreation center made of wood frame, large wood trusses and old oak tongue and groove flooring.  These buildings were built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The vision of the new Visitor Center was to be a regional attraction that would serve as an orientation center for the park, feature exhibits, meeting space, administrative offices, and visitor amenities. The design of the building was a new take on traditional rustic architecture that would match with nearby Mather Lodge, the original cabins, and pay tribute to the history of Hardison Hall and the recreation center.

There were several challenges presented during the course of construction that Kinco team members managed through various measures.  One was ensuring the level of quality for the exterior envelope of the building. The exterior of the building consisted of a mixture of native stone, wood trim, and glass.  Ensuring that these elements all came together Kinco insisted on constructing an extensive mock exterior panel wall and holding numerous quality control installation sessions for each trade along with ensuring the owners and design team approvals. In addition, was the challenge of constructing such an intricate glue-laminated timber frame structure. Erecting the structure itself and the adjoining exposed tongue and groove ceilings required maintaining protection of a finished project from the earliest stages of construction.

Since the building was taking the place of such historic buildings as Hardison Hall and the adjacent recreational center it was important to State Parks that we look at creative ways to reuse materials from those demoed buildings in the construction of the new visitor center.  Kinco did extensive selective demolition and determined several areas of potential salvage and reuse.  Those efforts included pulling up and saving much of the recreational facilities oak wood flooring and using it as veneer within the entry lobby of the building including wrapping the welcome desk.  In addition, much of the exterior stone from Hardison Hall was saved, cleaned, and reused as stone basis for all the centers directional signage and base paying tribute to Dr. Hardison.

The Visitor Center itself is a new 17,000 SF facility consisting of an extensive exhibit gallery with over 2,000 square feet and a multipurpose space of over 2,000 square feet.  The building includes a welcome and registration area, and the center of the facility features an exposed glue-lam covered structure with a massive native stone fireplace to welcome visitors as they arrive.  The exterior features extensive native stone, painted cement siding board and metal roof.  Kinco built a vast network of new sidewalks to connect to the existing boathouse and campground area along Lake Bailey. Kinco crews also constructed a massive new wooden bridge connecting these areas.

Kinco was proud to serve on this beautiful new visitor center at Petit Jean State Parks and proud to say it was completed on schedule, in budget and most of all with zero incident.