Work begins on OSD-planned community with focus on neurodivergent adults in Northwest Arkansas

In the Ozarks

Work begins on OSD-planned community with focus on neurodivergent adults in Northwest Arkansas

South Cato Springs Master Plan, Aerial View (OSD)

New York–based OSD (Office of Strategy + Design), nonprofit SLS Community, and developer South Cato Springs Holdings celebrated the groundbreaking of South Cato Springs, a development for neurodivergent adults, in Fayetteville, Arkansas today. The firm, whose ongoing work in the state includes the landscape design for the Alice Walton School of Medicine in Bentonville, has approached the masterplan for the ground-up mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood at an intimate scale and with limited verticality. OSD will be working with design firms Crafton Tull and CORE Architects on the project. 

SLS Community, a nonprofit organization that provides support for neurodivergent adults to “thrive through independence and choice,” will oversee “specialized housing and services alongside vocational training, educational programs, and recreational activities” in the development. Given this, SLS worked closely with OSD in developing the masterplan, which is financially supported by federal and state funding, and has also received support from Fayetteville mayor Lionel Jordan. This is all occurring with the city’s larger 2040 Plan, championed by Jordan, which focuses on maintaining a high quality of life through robust transportation infrastructure, “attainable housing” opportunities, limiting suburban sprawl, and revitalizing the downtown with a focus on infill projects. 

Town Square Creek (OSD)
Micro-Villages for SLS Community (OSD)

The 230-acre plan for South Cato Springs, located between Kessler Mountain Regional Park and Cato Springs Road southwest of the downtown, will focus pedestrian and cyclist circulation over that of cars, which will meet accessibility needs while keeping the development at the desired scale. This will include a town square, a University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS) location, urban agricultural spaces, and recreation spaces that will further connect to regional bike paths. The UAMS location will focus on healthcare services for neurodivergent adults, including primary and specialty healthcare, therapeutic services, and academic programs and research to further improve healthcare provision for these individuals. 

Woodland Recreation (OSD)
Urban Agrihoods (OSD)

OSD founding principal and creative director Simon David said: “From Fayetteville to Bentonville, Northwest Arkansas is a rich constellation of human-scaled cities that combines to become a national powerhouse of culture, economy and innovation. With South Cato Springs underway, the region is set to gain a new star in this constellation that will set a world-class standard for how people and nature, biodiversity and neurodiversity, can co-exist and thrive.” The overall design approach seeks to incorporate influences from the natural landscape of the Ozarks, tying the typologically unique plan to local environmental contexts. 

Site Plan (OSD)

The plan will include both single and multifamily housing that will be proximate to recreation spaces such as parks and event venues. Pedestrian and cyclist paths that connect these spaces weave into surrounding woodlands and creeks, while the development remains close to major roadways outside of it. With this approach SLS’s executive director Ashton McCombs said: “Our hope is that the service, employment, housing, and community resources holistically brought together throughout the OSD design will help address the disparity of opportunity that too often exists for neurodivergent adults.”