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. Its
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. Its the perfect test of the hypothesis that good
architecture can happen anywhere.
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.
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.
is an office project, in which slick new space for conducting
business was carved out of an old mechanic's garage.