Marlon Blackwell- Abstract Unions

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Distinguished Professor and the E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, presented 'Abstract Unions' at 6 p.m. Thursday, October 14, at The David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. The Pryor Center Presents lecture series is part of the Pryor Center's expanded mission of education, research, and outreach.

In his lecture, Blackwell, working outside the architectural mainstream, discusses his architecture and design process as being based in design strategies that draw upon vernaculars, building typologies and the contradictions of place - strategies that seek to transgress conventional boundaries for architecture.

Rather than a removal from reality, abstraction is the process of connecting to place, looking for possibilities of maximum meaning with minimal means. Blackwell demonstrates how these ideas of reinterpreting the familiar are generated from careful observations of intersections of nature-made and culture-made conditions particular to an architectural situation.

Using examples of selected design works from his firm, Marlon Blackwell Architects, speaks to a resilient architecture that can be achieved as interplay between details, form, and place. In particular, he illustrates the necessity of being responsive to environmental factors, the specificities of site, and sustainable design principles that ultimately provide an architecture that can be felt as much as it is understood, as immediate and tactile as it is legible, contributing to the fundamental civic dignity of communities.

Blackwell is a practicing architect in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Work produced in his professional office has received national and international recognition with significant publication in books, architectural journals and magazines and more than 160 design awards. Marlon Blackwell Associates received the 2016 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture and ranked #1 in Design as part of the 2016 Architect 50.

Blackwell is the recipient of the 2020 AIA Gold Medal, the Institute’s highest honor, which recognizes those whose work has had an enduring impact on the theory and practice of architecture. He is a lifetime member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Blackwell was a 2019 William A. Bernoudy Architect in Residence at the American Academy in Rome, was inducted into the National Academy of Design in 2018, and selected as a United States Artists Ford Fellow in 2014. He received the E. Fay Jones Gold Medal from the Arkansas AIA in 2017 and the 2012 Architecture Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

A monograph of his early work, An Architecture of the Ozarks: The Works of Marlon Blackwell,  was published in 2005 by Princeton Architectural Press, who will also publish a new monograph titled Radical Practice  to be released in Fall 2022.

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