The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices competition identifies leading talents in architecture and design in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Meet the eight 2016 winners that were selected for their “distinct design voices and significant bodies of realized work.” Each firm will deliver a lecture this month in Manhattan. The third lecture takes place tomorrow, Tuesday, April 5 at 7:00 p.m. when Jeffrey Day and E.B. Min (Min | Day) and Frank Jacobus and Marc Manack (SILO AR+D) present their work.
Cleveland, OH + Fayetteville, AR
SILO AR+D quietly began in 2009 when principal Marc Manack landed a commission to convert an old industrial warehouse in Cleveland, Ohio, into the North Presbyterian Church. Three years later, Manack met Frank Jacobus while teaching at the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture, and the firm began in earnest, split between Cleveland and Fayetteville.
The firm finds its split position outside of the country’s established design capitals as a major influence of its work. “We’re not bound to east coast or west coast cultures that maybe could limit our palate to a certain extent,” Jacobus, who has roots in Texas and Idaho, said. “So we can explore architecture that other firms aren’t necessarily exploring because we don’t feel compelled to fit within those groups.”
The result is a hybridity of multiple languages. “We’re interested in nesting different kinds of architectures in the same project,” Manack explained, noting that the duo eschews the dogged conformity of rigid design philosophies. “Our work is involved in multiple conversations at one time.”
For instance, the live-work Mood Ring House in Fayetteville casts both a private and public face. “The house was about two architectures in one—a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Manack said. “During the day it’s demure and at night, when the lights come on, it reverses the figure-ground and starts to take on a wild and colorful personality.”
Winning a competition to build a tree house for the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s 2015 summer garden show, SILO AR+D created Reflects by merging the design sensibilities of Buckminster Fuller, Peter Eisenman, and Toyo Ito, among others, to create a “framework for play” on a challenging treeless site.
“We conceived of it as something that would be able to bring the kids up out of the walled courtyard to look at the trees, but at the same time draw the environment into the courtyard,” Manack said. The firm inset silver reflective panels within a white monolithic steel frame to create a sort of periscope that reveal surrealistic views of the garden while allowing children to climb up and peek over the walls.
Back in Fayetteville, the Hillside Rock House, to be completed in October, contrasts with its site while maintaining a dialogue. “We’re creating an architecture that doesn’t look like it’s growing up from its site, but it still looks attached to its site,” Jacobus said. “It doesn’t try to divorce itself completely from the site. When you walk in, you’re still going up several runs of stairs so it feels like its part of the hill.”
Now well established, SILO AR+D is receiving larger and more distributed commissions, including a student life center at the University of Arkansas. “It’s been a very intense but incredibly productive last couple of years for us,” Manack said. “We’re happy that you can’t reduce our work to one liners.”