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Marlon Blackwell
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Marlon Blackwell was born in Germany, grew up in Florida and the Philippines, studied architecture at Auburn, worked in Boston, taught at Syracuse, and in 1992, at the age of 35, migrated to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he is now a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas and maintains a full-time practice. It’s understandable that someone who has moved so often might finally decide to settle in and stay put; but why Fayetteville, a sleepy university town on the road to nowhere?

"Because I can get things built here" is his response. It is a pragmatic answer and Marlon Blackwell is a pragmatic architect, an anatomist of the ordinary and the everyday, a detail guy for whom touch comes before form. He enjoys dealing directly with contractors and craftsmen, and can drive to most of his projects in 30 minutes. He likes teaching and is fascinated by the Ozarks with their blend of old farmland, new trailer parks, and shopping malls. It’s the perfect test of the hypothesis that good architecture can happen anywhere.

The TowerHouse sits on a rolling 57-acre site surrounded by native hickory and white oak trees. The combination of wood and white metal panels connects the tower to both natural and industrial landscapes. The edges of the oak fins have been beveled to catch light and enhance shadows. Guests pass through a modular steel doorway to a courtyard of creek stones and pecan shells and climb an open staircase to the living area. The basic structural system is similar to a fire tower. Guests climb a narrow interior staircase to the living space, which offers panoramic views of the horizon. On the roof deck views are carefully controlled by the size and placement of the openings.

The HoneyHouse consists of an 8-by-24-foot hive box with a hovering carport for the owner. Both structures are constructed of tongue-and-groove pine boards and tubular steel. The house is set on concrete blocks to protect the honey from insects. The display wall is an intricate assemblage of steel and angled glass which, depending on the season and the time of year, appears transparent, translucent, or opaque. Because of local labor problems, the steel elements had to be fabricated in Arkansas and transported to North Carolina. Construction took three weeks.

The HoneyHouse sits in the backyard of the Moore House, which Blackwell also designed. The Moore House was featured in the 1991 Record Houses feature in Architectural Record. The living spaces expand both vertically and horizontally from an entrance tower at one end of the house.

Terminella is an office project, in which slick new space for conducting business was carved out of an old mechanic's garage.

 

 

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