Marlon Blackwell on the Power of Everyday Design

Marlon Blackwell Architects' Vol Walker Hall and Steven L. Anderson Design Center. (Timothy Hursley)

Marlon Blackwell Architects’ Vol Walker Hall and Steven L. Anderson Design Center. (Timothy Hursley)

Marlon Blackwell, principal of Marlon Blackwell Architects and distinguished professor and department head at the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, practices in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the temptation to design according to a derivative vernacular—and the risk of descending into quaintness—is great. Blackwell seeks instead to operate in the space between the vernacular and the universal, to create buildings that are simultaneously both and neither. “What emerges is something that I like to call the strangely familiar,” he said. “We’re working with forms in a cultural context that have a first reading of being familiar, but on a second, third, or fourth reading are clearly transgressive to either the local typology or the vernacular. What we try to do is kind of de-typify things—it’s really about trying to find or develop an idea about performative surfaces.” Read More

The History and Future of the Los Angeles Dingbat

West
Friday, February 7, 2014
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DINGBAT 2.0 EXAMINES THE DINGBAT APARTMENT AS BOTH HISTORIC ARTIFACT AND CONTEMPORARY PROBLEM (LA FORUM)

DINGBAT 2.0 EXAMINES THE DINGBAT APARTMENT AS BOTH HISTORIC ARTIFACT AND CONTEMPORARY PROBLEM (LA FORUM)

“Dingbat” is a word with many meanings. It’s a synonym for nitwit. In typography, it’s a symbol used in place of a letter. And in Los Angeles, it’s a particular type of multi-family housing, dominant in the 1950s and 1960s and alternately maligned and embraced over the decades.

Dingbat 2.0, an upcoming publication from the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design (LA Forum), explores the history and future of dingbat apartments. The subject of a current Kickstarter campaign, Dingbat 2.0 brings together essays on the origins of the Los Angeles dingbat with highlights from the LA Forum’s 2010 Dingbat 2.0 competition, in which participants were asked to reconfigure the dingbat for today’s urban reality.

Continue reading after the jump.

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