Fayetteville architect Marlon Blackwell was shocked when he received a phone call in the middle of a lecture while guest teaching at a studio at the University of Texas, Austin.
That’s when he found out he’d won the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s National Design Awards for architecture, according to a May 30 story in Architectural Record.
“A friend of mine happened to walk by my studio, and I pulled him into the hallway and said, ‘Hey, man, guess what?’” Blackwell told the magazine in a phone call.
He and his wife, Meryati Johari Blackwell, principals of Marlon Blackwell Architects, are featured in the question-and-answer story by editor Anna Fixsen.
Marlon Blackwell, whose firm was founded 24 years ago, recalled one of his projects being featured on the cover of Architectural Record in 2001.
“That really set us up,” he said. “Now it’s come full circle. It is amazing what’s happened since that moment. We were working out of a spare bedroom at the time, and we had a tangerine-orange iMac.”
They had just completed the Keenan TowerHouse and Moore HoneyHouse, Meryati Blackwell said. “We wanted to take something like a carport into the realm of architecture.”
When asked why they chose to remain in Arkansas over the years, Marlon Blackwell referenced Brian Mackay-Lyons, who lives and practices in Nova Scotia. He says, “I’d rather be a first-rate hick architect than a third-rate New York architect.”
The Blackwells have stayed for the opportunity and support from the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas. Blackwell has been a professor in the Fay Jones School since 1992.
Laughing, Meryati Blackwell said, “We might move if someone gives us a 100-story high-rise.”
On Oct. 20, winners of the National Design Awards will be honored at a gala at Cooper Hewitt in New York City.