A wide array of architects chosen by Walmart owners for Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. (Courtesy Drew Harris)

The Walton Family Foundation has chosen a group of 36 design firms comprising architects and landscape architects to be part of their Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program in a bid to boost the standard of architecture in the up and coming area of Northwest Arkansas.

View the list after the jump.

Walmart heirs hope the Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program will ramp up architectural standards in the state

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville (Courtesy The Walton Family Foundation/Drew Harris)

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville (Courtesy Drew Harris)

In a bid to bolster an economic and population boom in Northwest Arkansas, plans are afoot to shore up and streamline the region’s architecture and landscape design. The Walton Family Foundation recently announced the launch of the Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program, in which previously vetted architects and public-space projects will receive financial support from the foundation at every stage of the design phase.

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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

Marlon Blackwell Puts on a Clinic with Vol Walker Hall

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Marlon Blackwell Architect's Steven L. Anderson Design Center embodies the recent history of architectural technology in its massing and materials. (Timothy Hursley)

Marlon Blackwell Architect’s Steven L. Anderson Design Center embodies the recent history of architectural technology in its massing and materials. (Timothy Hursley)

University of Arkansas  addition celebrates the future with a contemporary rewrite of Neoclassicism.

As head of the architecture department and distinguished professor at the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture, Marlon Blackwell was uniquely qualified to oversee the renovation and expansion of the school’s home, Vol Walker Hall. To unite the school’s landscape architecture, architecture, and interior design departments under one roof for the first time, Blackwell’s eponymous firm designed a contemporary west wing to mirror the east bar on the existing Beaux-Arts style building, constructed in the 1930s as the university library. But the Steven L. Anderson Design Center—which tied for Building of the Year in AN‘s 2014 Best of Design Awards—is more than a container for 37,000 square feet of new studio, seminar, and office space. It is also a teaching tool, a lesson in the evolution of architectural technology writ in concrete, limestone, glass, steel, and zinc.
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