Marlon Blackwell- Marlon Blackwell Architects
Guest of the podcast is Marlon Blackwell, co-founder and principal with his work and life partner Meryati Johari of Marlon Blackwell Architects, MBA, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Recipient of many, prestigious awards as the 2020 AIA Gold Medal, one of the highest honour, recognizing architects with enduring impacts on theory and practice, member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, another of the most important recognitions of artistic merit in the United States, he didn’t change a rare quality, continuing to demonstrate a generous spontaneous availability and accessibility. Brilliant intellectual and speaker he communicates with the same direct, intelligent simplicity of his works, minimalist gestures, embodying the strength to express a richness of services, never penalised by budget’s constraints. Practicing architect and passionate educator, Chair in Architecture and Distinguished Professor at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas, in merit of his contributions to the field of architecture and dedication to students, he has received the Gold Medal recognition, selected the 2020 Southeastern Conference, SEC, Professor of The Year, faculty’s highest honour, named one of DesignIntelligence magazine’s '30 Most Admired Educators’. Visiting professor and lecturer at famous international institutes, he has been equally successful with his works, receiving more than hundred awards, worldwide published by magazines and books and two monographs dedicated.
The conversation opens, dealing with his very ‘nomadic’ life until he decided to permanently reside in Fayetteville, a place rich of a beautiful nature but not of an equally distinctive architecture and he explains his opportunity to develop a language that, in respect of local traditions and culture, has made him possible to transform the ordinary into powerful and meaningful experiences, perfectly responding to a ‘glocal’ character.
The authenticity of an architecture that, using simplicity as universal language, aspires to make modest things great is become the essence of his practice.
Collaboration, support of a synergistic participation of multiple actors, is another vital force of his approach that is analyzed about Shelby Farms Park, in Memphis, Tennesse. The deceptive playful simplicity of Harvey Pediatric Clinic, a pluri-winner project and the simple but sophisticated elegance of the interior of a vast fast casual ramen restaurant in Bentonville, Arkansas, brilliantly exalting the dissonance between refined craftsmanship and industrial past constitute two different aspects particularly interesting of his portfolio.
We dwell finally on the involvement he devotes with passionate and enthusiastic commitment to both the educational mission and practical profession, injecting vitality and greatly ennobling and dignifying everything he does.