Throughout most of the construction process for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, an elevated wooden observation deck provided pedestrians on the Crystal Bridges Trail with a view of the work in progress. Today, that deck is being dismantled because a new permanent overlook has opened on Crystal Bridges Trail. The new overlook offers panoramic views of the museum, as well as seating and landscaping.
The new overlook, made possible in part by support from Bob and Marilyn Bogle of Bentonville, is now open to the public. It provides a multi-level stone seating area on the west side of the ravine that surrounds the museum, just north of the site of the old observation deck. The overlook, which was designed by Crystal Bridges Director of Trails and Grounds Scott Eccleston, features two curved stone seating areas that offer views of the museum campus to both the north and south. The structure’s organic shape is meant to complement the curved architecture of the museum’s buildings, which were designed by Moshe Safdie.
“Moshe Safdie’s building was a response to nature,” Eccleston commented. “I gave nature’s response back to Moshe Safdie.”
The curved seating is created from three types of stone that graduate from natural boulders, which form the base, through rough-cut stone to smooth, refined flagstone for the back and seating. The structure is integrated into the natural hillside and surrounded by redbud and dogwood trees.
“We wanted it to feel like it grew out of the site,” Eccleston said. “We want visitors to be able to sit in a different spot each day and get a different view of the museum.”
The new overlook is accessible via a natural surface trail that connects to the Crystal Bridges Trail. The trail is also accessible from the parking and public rest area located on N.E. A Street.