story by University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture
The Gulf States Region of the American Institute of Architects awarded two 2012 Honor Awards to Marlon Blackwell Architect, of Fayetteville, for the Ruth Lilly Visitors Pavilion at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 100 Acres art and nature park and for the museum store at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.
Marlon Blackwell is a Distinguished Professor and head of the architecture department in the Fay Jones School of Architecture, as well as an AIA Fellow.
The Gulf States Region’s honors program had a record number of entries this year, and awards were presented at the AIA Gulf States reception during the national AIA convention in Washington in May.
For the visitors pavilion, jury members noted how the structure – made of Brazilian ipe wood, Indiana charred cedar, steel, acrylic and glass – fits naturally in the forest setting. “This project complements nature. Its cross section is thoughtfully considered with a roof that hovers above the rooms as delicately as a leaf. Alternately transparent and closed, it sits poised above an environmentally sensitive wetland. The boardwalk path through the woods is as carefully considered as the building itself. Indeed, the path seems to fold up and wrap around the program spaces of the interpretative center. We admired the steel exoskeleton lined with a wood screen that shapes the visitor’s experience of nature. Extraordinary.”
For the museum store, jury members remarked on the mix of materials and light in this shop housed in a museum designed by Moshe Safdie. “This gift shop, in a new museum, is embraced by a bold, curved ceiling made of cherry plywood. Underneath this cloud of wood are disposed display areas that are quiet and do not compete with the merchandise. Filled with light and subtly colored tones of wood, this space is both inspiring and reverential. The suspended light fixtures are a touch of brilliance.”
In addition, the pavilion graces the cover of the newly published AIA 2010-2012: Designs for the New Decade. The book, published by Design Media Publishing Limited, features the American Institute of Architects Honor Award winners for the last three years in the categories of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Regional and Urban Design, as well as the annual 25-Year Award.
Blackwell’s pavilion won his firm its first AIA Honor Award for Architecture this year.
This book also includes four projects by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, which is an outreach program of the Fay Jones School of Architecture. The design center won Honor Awards in the Regional and Urban Design category. The recognized projects were “Connections: MacArthur Park District Master Plan” (2010), “Townscaping an Automobile-Oriented Fabric” (2011), Low Impact Development: A Design Manual for Urban Areas (2011) and “Fayetteville 2030: Transit City Scenario” (2012).