Marlon Blackwell on the Power of Everyday Design

Architecture, Southwest
Friday, September 19, 2014
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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

October 30–31: Facades+ Makes its Dallas Debut

Facades+, the premier conference on high-performance building envelopes, is coming to Dallas this October. (Bart Fields / Flickr)

Facades+, the premier conference on high-performance building envelopes, is coming to Dallas this October. (Bart Fields / Flickr)

Home to MorphosisPerot Museum of Nature and Science, the Santiago Calatrava–designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and a starchitecture-studded cultural district, Dallas is increasingly an architectural destination in its own right. This fall, AEC industry professionals have one more reason to visit: the inaugural Facades+ Dallas conference, taking place October 30–31 at CityPlace Events. 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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Celebrating Design Monterey Style

West
Friday, October 4, 2013
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MDC_LOGO-SIG3-designed by Rebeca Mendez

Last weekend’s Monterey Design Conference had many special moments–beyond those spent walking the spectacular grounds of the Asilomar center on the Pacific ocean. The conference, which is essentially the bi-annual meeting of the California AIA, is trying to re-brand itself the “MDC” in hopes of encouraging the general public to attend. But the conference has been M.C.ed for the past dozen years by Robert Ivy, Chief Executive Officer of the AIA and once again he did a brilliant job (with help from Larry Scarpa) of keeping the event moving along between wine tastings, a small trade show and attendees’ desire to escape the darkened conference hall for a walk on the beach. Read More

Monterey Design Conference Kicks Off This Weekend at Scenic Asilomar

West
Friday, September 27, 2013
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Asilomar is hosting the 2013 Monterey Design Conference in California. (William Menking / AN)

Asilomar is hosting the 2013 Monterey Design Conference in California. (William Menking / AN)

The California AIA’s biennial Monterey Design Conference is on the next two days—September 27th and 28th—at Asilomar, the glorious Julia Morgan– and John Carl Warnecke–designed center on the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Grove. The conference will feature lectures by Thom Mayne, Marlon Blackwell, Thomas Phifer, Kengo Kuma, and AN board member Odile Decq.

But first up this morning was Greg Otto from Buro Happold who presented various Happold projects that were created using a multi-disciplinary approach and discussed design and legal issues around responsibility and how these “stress traditional design assumptions.” Otto also discussed his ongoing New York projects with Jeff Koons who wants to make large steel structures look “like marshmallows.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Marlon Blackwell Weaves Plywood At The Crystal Bridges Museum

Fabrikator
Friday, February 1, 2013
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(Timothy Hursley)

(Timothy Hursley)

Marlon Blackwell uses ribbed ceiling to evoke craft while mitigating contemporary challenges at Arkansas museum.

The setting for the gift shop at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art seems idyllic—a vast glass wall opens onto a entry courtyard that gives way to a placid pond reflecting the Ozarks landscape. But to create a design for the 3,100 square-foot space in Bentonville, Arkansas, architect Marlon Blackwell had to overcome multiple hurdles. The first: a thicket of concrete columns supporting the green roof of the Moshe Safdie-designed building. Next: the west-facing glass wall, which made heat gain an issue. And finally: the very small budget (the total project cost was $644,000).

Continue reading after the jump.

Creative Corridor Plan Unveiled to Revitalize Little Rock

National, Newsletter
Friday, December 21, 2012
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Aerial view of Main Street's Creative Corridor (Courtesy Marlon Blackwell Architect & Steve Luoni)

Aerial view of Main Street’s Creative Corridor. (Courtesy Marlon Blackwell Architect & Steve Luoni)

Marlon Blackwell, architect and professor at the Fay Jones School of Architecture, and Steve Luoni, architect and director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, have unveiled a masterplan for converting Little Rock’s Main Street into a cultural center. The plan titled, The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization will include a pedestrian promenade, outdoor furniture, LED lighting installations, rain gardens, affordable living-units for artists and a renovation of downtown buildings for mixed-use. Luoni notes that execution is expected to occur in phases.

Continue reading after the jump.

Gustafson Awarded Brunner Memorial Prize.  Kathryn Gustafson Kathryn Gustafson, founding partner of Seattle-based landscape architecture firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol has been awarded the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an annual award honoring an architect who has made significant contributions to architecture as an art. Jury member James Polshek noted in a statement, “The power of her imagination and the precision of her execution have enriched the many natural and man-made places she has touched with her magic.” The Academy also awarded five Arts & Letters Awards to Hilary Ballon, Marlon Blackwell, Elizabeth Gray, Alan Organschi, and Michael Maltzan. The awards will be presented this May in New York City.

 

The WAF Winner Is

International
Friday, November 4, 2011
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Marlon Blackwell's Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Arkansas

Marlon Blackwell's Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Arkansas

The World Architecture Festival is wrapping up its fourth iteration and AN has been there since the beginning as official United States media sponsor. We have seen it grow from a small mostly British bash in Barcelona to a truly international competition and trade show with over 1,400 participants from 68 countries. One of the functions of our participation is that I serve as official judge in one of the event’s 15 short-listed categories for best built project (plus there are ten categories for unrealized projects). This year I served with Michigan University’s architecture dean Monica Ponce de Leon and Barcelona architect Fermin Vazquez as jurors in the Civic and Community group. We were asked to select the best of show in the category with the winner going on to the final round where it is considered by a super jury including Michael Sorkin, Jo Noera, Odile Decq (who sadly was stuck in China) and engineer wizard Tim Macfarlane.

Continue reading after the jump.

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