Architect, philanthropist, art enthusiast, and community leader, Alan New has been involved in the Argenta Community for eleven years and Argenta Downtown Council chair for the past year.
After receiving a B’Arch degree at Mississippi State University, Alan spent 2 months driving across America on his way to Portland, Oregon, where he worked for two firms and was involved with the Oregon School of Design. This school was one of the epicenters for the New Urbanist movement in urban design in the world which is what brought Alan to Portland. He loves the west coast but decided he wanted to get his masters, which took him to Columbia University in NYC. After graduating with his masters, Alan worked for several firms in New York as well as working freelance on numerous private residences and galleries. After close to 7 years in NYC and wanting to be close to family, he moved to Memphis, taking a job as a designer at a large corporate / entertainment design firm where he worked for 10 years. It was here he met his best friend and wife Diana who headed up the entertainment interior department at the firm. The couple started their firm in 2005, where they made the perfect duo, architect, and interior designer. After the economy tanked in 2008, making it difficult for them to compete with larger firms for the scale of projects they were soliciting, Alan was contacted by a headhunter with an opportunity to work with Taggart architects in North Little Rock. Diana and Alan drove over to meet with the leadership of the firm and fell in love with the opportunities presented and with the central Arkansas vibe.
Working with Taggart Architects proved to be a life-changing experience for Alan. At the time, the late Jerry Currence, the co-owner, and president of TAGGART Architects, was passionate about the revitalization of a little community called Argenta, and this passion soon spread to Alan and Diana. The couple knew they wanted to help build a community that offered the arts, theater, and experiences that include food, music, and a safe place for everyone. Working alongside others within the Argenta district Alan was a founding board member of the Art Connection, an after-school employment opportunity for high school students that focused on the Arts. Alan also served on the board of Argenta Arts Council. Helping to ensure the Clean Green & Safe programs mission has been just one highlights of the New's dedication to the community.
Loving the community isn't just something the New's say, they live on Main Street and work in Argenta. It's their home. They love the community vibe and say that the neighborhood welcomed them immediately and provided an entirely new lifestyle with other empty nesters. They enjoy attending the theatre, supporting local artists and restaurants, and are involved in the continued revitalization of the community through the beautification and economic growth of the Argenta Arts District.
This year, with the completion of the Argenta Plaza and Alans firm, TAGGART Architects, relocation to Argenta as well as the opening of the world headquarters of First Orion, you can see that Argenta has opportunities for a diverse architecture and expanded economic development.
Being involved with the Argenta Downtown Council, under Chris Kent's leadership, they work together with the ADC's grassroots efforts to build a better Argenta Arts District. Being the ADC’s director allows Alan to keep a finger on the pulse, helping to ensure potential opportunities align together for the community, businesses, and residents of Argenta.
Alan is excited about the new Argenta Outdoor Dining District. "The ADC has been instrumental in working with restaurants to be successful. Now with the AODD, we can provide the safest way for the community and visitors to drink, dine, and visit Argenta businesses during these trying times. By making it an entertainment district, it opens opportunities for businesses." Alan says.
All of the things the ADC is doing has contributed to the spark that has ignited into a fire attracting more potential businesses, housing, and overall economic vitality.
"Alan and Diana are passionate about Argenta. They care deeply about every detail of what happens in our downtown. Funny as it sounds, I learn something new from the New's every day! We talk and work together daily; the ADC is thankful to have the New's working with us to make Argenta Arts District a safe place to live, work, and play" Chris Kent, Executive Director.
Argenta Downtown Council is recognized as a leader, advocate, and resource in assuring that downtown is a safe, clean, green, and vital place through the Clean Green & Safe program. To learn how you can be involved, contact Executive Director, Chris Kent.