Keynote Session


Conference Schedule

Keynote Address
"Abstract Unions"

1-2 PM CDT, Wednesday, October 20, 2021   

Speaker: Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Marlon Blackwell Architects

Marlon Blackwell, working outside the architectural mainstream, will discuss 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 will demonstrate 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, he will speak to a resilient architecture that can be achieved as interplay between details, form, and place.

In particular, he will illustrate 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.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the capacity of small regional firms, located outside the centers of fashion, to produce design excellence in buildings of all scales that are economic, environmentally responsive, providing architectural diversity and civic dignity at a national level.
  • Distinguish social, economic, and environmental benefits of high-performance adaptive reuse design as an essential preservation strategy, for the development of sustainable communities, using three sample course adaptive reuse projects that incorporate both renovations and additions to existing building structures.
  • Define the role of topography, site drainage, local ecologies, and accessibility (pedestrian and vehicular) to modify and transform existing conventions for building organizational strategies that lead to economically resourceful and sustainable permutations of building form and construction assemblies.
  • Describe the relationship between building articulation systems (brise soleil, porches, canopies, etc.), site water management, and sustainable material assemblies and the generation of building typologies that are more adaptive and environmentally responsive to the specificities of a place and region.

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