Industry Mag Names Marlon Blackwell Top Firm Nationally in Design

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Marlon Blackwell Architects, the Fayetteville firm owned by University of Arkansas professor Marlon Blackwell, has been recognized by Architect magazine as the top firm in design in the magazine’s 2016 Architect 50 list.

The firm was ranked No. 7 in the design category last year, according to a UA news release.

“I’m really honored by this latest recognition of our work. And we feel strongest about the fact that it underscores the quality of good design happening in the Midwest and South,” Blackwell said in a statement.

Architect magazine is the official publication of the American Institute of Architects. This is the eighth year the magazine has published the survey of top firms, with an overall ranking and additional rankings in the categories of design, business and sustainability.

“At this point, I think our work cuts across a wide range of types and scales and price points, and shows a consistent level of high design no matter what kind of project,” Blackwell added. “This again demonstrates that architecture can happen anywhere, at any scale, at any budget and for anyone.”

Blackwell has been a practicing architect for about 30 years, and founded Marlon Blackwell Architects in 2000. The firm employs10 designers, four of whom are graduates of the UA’s Fay Jones School of Architecture.

Some of the firm’s most significant works can be seen in the Northwest Arkansas area.

Two recent small projects include a practice facility for Blessings Golf Club in Johnson, and the Fayetteville Montessori Elementary School, both of which display what the magazine called a “rigorous and sometimes daring vernacular Modernism, fashioned on very lean budgets.”

Another notable project in the region is the 356,000-SF expansion of Fayetteville High School, a project done in collaboration with Hight Jackson Associates in Rogers and DLR Group, based in Overland Park, Kansas. This expansion helped link already existing campus structures from different eras into a singular identity.

Another project is a 15,000-SF medical/office building just west of Interstate 49 in Rogers. It houses the pediatric practice of Dr. Bryan Harvey.

“It’s more like a road sign in some ways,” Blackwell explained in a 2014 interview. “An icon. We want people to see that building and say, ‘Ah, that’s Dr. Harvey’s clinic.’”