Posts tagged with "Arkansas":

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Arkansas to get a 28,000 square-foot “reptile garden”

Hot Springs, Arkansas, a town of just 37,000 most famous for its namesake hot springs, is getting an unusual new attraction: a 28,000 square-foot indoor reptile garden. The habitat, the brainchild of local business owner Dennis Magee, will feature a snake house with local non-venomous and venomous snakes, as well as, according to the local Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “examples of the larger and more interesting snakes that are found around the world.” It will also feature all variety of lizards, crocodiles, alligators, and turtles, curated by a herpetologist with the Little Rock Zoo and another from the United Kingdom. It will also have various birds, to be overseen by a retired lawyer and the former president of the Arkansas Falconer’s Club. The expansive indoor zoo, designed by Rico Harris of Harris Architects, will also feature a “Boa Bar,” “Gator Lounge,” and, of course, a gift shop. The date for breaking ground is still unannounced.
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Snaking Tree House from modus studio opens to the public this weekend

Emerging Voices winner modus studio has nearly completed a floating treehouse in the Garvan Woodland Gardens of their native Arkansas. The twisting timber Tree House rises between the oak and pine trees of the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden and is designed both to mimic the surrounding woods as well as to draw children back into nature. A soft opening for the Tree House this Saturday will cap several years of construction. Garvan Woodland Gardens is the University of Arkansas’s 210-acre botanical garden, and one of only eight public woodland gardens in the country. Modus is a frequent collaborator with the university, having most recently completed the transformation of the school’s sculpture studio. The Tree House is the first of three proposed for the woods, and modus took design cues from nature to create an arboreal play space that doubles as an educational station where visitors can learn about how trees grow. As visitors follow a suspended catwalk through the woods and the foliage recedes, visitors are gradually confronted with the Tree House’s mass. The curved Tree House reaches two stories at one end and tapers to a child-sized window at the other. The curvilinear plan, combined with the timber ribs that make up the tree house’s open structure, creates a biomorphic shape that references the expansion of tree rings. The screen created by the gaps in the scaffolding regulates light, creates unique vantage points for visitors at different parts of the tree house, and allows the building to further blend into the forest. The Tree House is rife with other biophilic touches. A timber staircase allows children to descend to the Root Plaza below, where they can experience the foliage from ground-level (or ascend up to the canopy from a trail). Inside, modus used their in-house fabrication shop to build a steel screen reminiscent of a decaying leaf, capping the tree house’s larger end while still allowing views out to the forest. Slices from native trees, bark, and other teaching tools inside the treehouse build on what modus calls the “theme of dendrology, the study of trees and wooded plants” to drive programming. The privately funded, $1.8 million project will hold its “soft” opening to the public this weekend as the landscaping underneath and some interior components are not fully installed yet. A full grand opening is expected for the fall. AN will update this article to include completed photos of the Tree House after its opening on June 30.
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Modus Studio gets ahead by sticking to its Arkansas roots

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Modus Studio founder Chris Baribeau will deliver his lecture on March 1st, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. Modus Studio might have started in 2008 as a two-man operation in cofounder Chris Baribeau’s back office, but the firm’s expansion to 24 people and a full fabrication shop shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The office’s intensive focus on the surrounding Arkansas environment and their hands-on approach have drawn attention both inside and outside of the state. “A thinking–making philosophy really evolved out of our passions, from working through college, working on construction, working on fabrication,” explained Baribeau. “It set the tone for the rest of our professional work.” Modus is a frequent collaborator with the University of Arkansas and has designed for the school a pair of mass timber residence halls, an athletic area master plan, and, most recently, a sculpture studio— although the firm has realized nearly every type of project. Its single-family homes typically draw on the surrounding geographies and ecosystems to influence the final forms, as is the case with Van Huset on the Bluff, a stark cabin overlooking Beaver Lake, in northwest Arkansas. Educational work has a special place in the studio’s canon. Green Forest Middle School, Modus’s first project, was also the first school that either Baribeau or cofounder Josh Siebert had ever worked on. Having to leap into a new building typology meant engaging heavily with the community at every step of the school’s design and construction, an approach that has carried over to all of their projects afterward. Timber and sustainability are prominent through-lines in many of Modus’s built works, no matter the intended use. Working with timber allows the studio to harvest wood directly from the trees on-site, or if they’re not able to do so, connect with Arkansas’s timber industry. Even Modus’s Fayetteville office, a reclaimed warehouse clad in timber that was charred in the fabrication shop, is winning notice, as it was Arkansas’s only LEED Platinum– certified building in 2017. “We’re very connected to the natural world,” said Baribeau. “And being in the Ozarks, the language of the rugged mountains and valleys and rivers connects us to the outdoor world. We’re straddling this dynamic place that’s somewhere between the manmade and the natural world. Our buildings are about fitting into the landscape and drawing inspiration from the context around the site.” Modus views its location outside of the “major design cities” as a boon. Arkansas is in the process of rebuilding and infilling its urban centers, providing the studio an opportunity to experiment while allowing them to build their brand through projects that serve the community. While Modus has begun working on projects as far north as Illinois, Baribeau is most proud of the K–12 schools that the studio has designed for low-income, rural areas. “We’ve found, particularly in this region of Arkansas, how rural communities are really underserved in terms of good design. The hub of that community, their tax money, the local football team, all focuses around the public school. For us, the ongoing tilling of the soil is to raise the bar for rural communities."
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Design collaboration brings mass timber residence halls to the University of Arkansas

A national design collaboration led by Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates and including Arkansas-based Modus Studio, St. Louis–based Mackey Mitchell Architects, and Philadelphia-based OLIN has created America’s first large-scale, mass timber interactive learning project, already under construction at the University of Arkansas. Working off of a “cabin the woods” concept, 708-bed Stadium Drive Residence Halls feature fully exposed, locally harvested wood structural elements. The residence halls are a pair of snaking buildings joined in a central plaza, and include classrooms, dining facilities, maker-spaces, performance spaces, administrative offices, and faculty housing. The five-story buildings, totaling 202,027 square feet, are clad in a zinc-colored paneling, while copper-toned panels are scattered along each floor that appear to float above the heavily planted backdrop. Inside, wooden columns, beams and cross-bracing are all displayed to present a sense of warmth, and to connect students with Arkansas’s local ecology. The halls terminate with large study rooms at the end of each floor, which light up at night and act as beacons for the rest of the campus. The panels were constructed from Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), while the structural columns and beams are made of glulam, where layers of wood all facing the same direction are laminated together under pressure. Each arched building curves around a courtyard or common park area and students enter the complex through a covered “front porch” at the northern building’s main entrance. The central gathering room that connects the hall’s two wings has been dubbed the “cabin,” and despite being relatively small, packs in a hearth, community kitchen, lounge spaces, and a planted green roof. Each hall also features a double-height ground floor lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape. “The interwoven building and landscaped courtyards, terraces, and lawns; the beauty of timber structure and spaces; and the excitement of performing arts and workshop facilities will make this newest campus residential community a destination and a magnet,” said Andrea P. Leers, principal of Leers Weinzapfel Associates. Leers Weinzapfel is no stranger to working with timber, as its multidisciplinary design building for UMass Amherst wrapped up construction late last year. The project is expected to finish in 2019, and will anchor a new master plan for the University of Arkansas campus.
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Duvall Decker unveil an expansive Arkansas municipal campus

Jackson, Mississippi-based Duvall Decker Architects have unveiled designs for a expansive municipal campus for the city of Springdale, Arkansas. When completed, the 120,000-square-foot complex will consolidate a number of municipal departments in order to better serve the surrounding community. The project will include a much-needed new police facility, a state district court, and also encompass a renovated city administrative building. Springdale has seen a massive population increase in the last 20 years, and the current 43,000-square-foot city building can no longer handle the needs of the city. The police force has also grown from a staff of 75 to 200 in that time, and the court now hears an additional 20,000 more cases per year. Understanding that the city may continue to grow, Duvall Decker’s design allows for future additions. The new campus will fit into an earlier master plan, which has guided the revival of the city’s downtown. That master plan is designed to connect a number of civic and recreational green spaces, including a bike trail that connects Fayetteville to Bentonville through Springdale. The new municipal complex will sit along this corridor, and will be the anchor for a new civic hub in the city. Duvall Decker were awarded a 2017 Architectural League Emerging Voices award and have worked extensively on civic and cultural buildings throughout the South. Currently working through the planning phases of the project, Duvall Decker worked with public safety and court consultants from Dewberry Architects and partnered with local firm Hight Jackson Associates.
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New exhibition at the Arkansas Art Center highlights the early works of Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams: Early Works, the first exhibition of Ansel Adams’s photography hosted by the Arkansas Arts Center, will showcase 41 prints done by Adams from the 1920s through the 1950s, highlighting his small-scale images. Adams was known for his photography of natural sites such as Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and the Sierra Nevadas, and this exhibition will tie into the completion of the 100th anniversary of the National Park System. According to the Arkansas Arts Center, Adams wasb a “photographer, musician, naturalist, explorer, critic, and teacher, was a giant in the field of American landscape photography. His work can be viewed as the end of an arc of American art concerned with capturing the ‘sublime’ in the unspoiled Western landscape.”

Ansel Adams: Early Works Arkansas Arts Center 501 East 9th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Through April 16, 2017

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United States Marshals Museum moves closer to construction

To coincide with the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service, the United States Marshals Museum’s opening date is set for September 24, 2019. Designed by Cambridge Seven Associates along with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, the institution’s foundation has also launched a $60 million fundraising campaign for construction.

The new 50,000-square-foot museum will be located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and will feature a collection of artifacts spread across three galleries exploring the 230-year history of the nation’s oldest law enforcement agency, a Hall of Honor for those killed in the line of duty, and a National Learning Center that will promote an understanding of constitutional democracy.

Peter Kuttner, president of Cambridge Seven Associates and principal architect for the museum, consciously blended history with modern sustainability in the design. The museum looks out over the Arkansas River, which used to serve as a border between the former colonies and what was known as the frontier at the time of the Marshals’ establishment in 1789. The scheme also incorporates photovoltaic panels and vegetative roofing along the building’s star-shaped design, which,along with its use of bronze, is reflective of the badges worn by marshals in earlier years.

From his research, Kuttner found that “there was no official badge manufacturer in Washington,” that “some were stamped on tin, some were cast, some [stars] had five points, some had six points,” and “when you buy souvenirs, they’re all different sizes and looks.”

For his inspiration for the star-shaped aesthetic, Kuttner looked to one of the last scenes in the movie High Noon, in which U.S. Marshal Will Kane tosses his badge to the ground. “It hits at an angle, with some of the points jutting out of the ground,” he said, explaining his approach to the museum as “low on the front, and high on the back.” The infamous High Noon drawing by former President Bill Clinton, who serves as honorary chair of the museum’s executive committee, still hangs in the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, and served as “a great little connection” that got the committee on board, Kuttner said.

The facility is projected to cost $35.9 million, with $12.3 million in total exhibits, a $4 million endowment, nearly $3 million in contingencies, and $3.5 million for one-year operating expenses. Just over $29 million is listed in committed fundraising so far.

With almost half of the campaign target already secured, the museum still faces fundraising challenges. In a conversation with Talk Business & Politics, Jim Dunn, president of the U.S. Marshals Museum Foundation, cited the agency’s low profile, as well as the location of its future home in Fort Smith as specific points of tension. “Convincing donors to export large chunks of money to a distant and unknown community is difficult,” he said.

At present, the museum’s eight-member staff is working out of offices in Fort Smith, maintaining some 500 items that will eventually be used in the museum’s exhibitions. The museum staff is set to expand to 18–20 people upon opening.

With regard to the museum’s funding and the array of design elements, specifically the sustainable features, Kuttner expressed anxiety about its execution: “I’m crossing my fingers that those elements survive value-engineering,” he said.

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Studio Gang to design Arkansas Art Center expansion

The Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) has announced Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects as the design architect for its next building project. Studio Gang was selected from a field of five finalists that included Allied Works, Shigeru Ban, Thomas Phifer, and Snohetta. “Designing a re-envisioned Arkansas Arts Center is a truly exciting commission,” Studio Gang founder Jeanne Gang said in a press release. “Its extraordinary collection, historic MacArthur Park setting, and rich mix of programs present a unique opportunity to redefine how the arts can strengthen local communities and surrounding regions. We look forward to working closely with the AAC to discover how architecture can enhance the Center’s important civic and cultural mission by creating new connections between people and the arts in Little Rock and beyond.” More than just a renovation and expansion of the museum's current building, the project is expected to completely change the way the museum is used and interacts with the surrounding downtown. “This project is about more than just addressing the physical issues of the current building. It requires rethinking how the AAC fits into the downtown fabric,” said Todd Herman, executive director for the AAC. “How can we best serve the community, and how do the AAC and MacArthur Park connect to other social and cultural nodes in downtown Little Rock? We want to do more than build; we want to transform the cultural experience.” The AAC was founded in 1960 and has a permanent collection with a heavy emphasis on drawing, watercolors, and other works on paper. This includes works from Rembrandt, Picasso, and Degas. The museum also possesses the largest U.S. collection of drawings and watercolors of early 20th century French Neo-Impressionist painter Paul Signac. The next step in the $65-million project will be to select a local architect to collaborate on the project. According to the museum’s website, an RFQ will be issued this month for that position.
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University of Arkansas named inaugural recipient of el dorado prize

The University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture & Design will be the inaugural recipient of the annual el dorado Prize. The distinction is sponsored by the Kansas City–based architecture firm el dorado as part of its 20th anniversary. Awarded each winter, starting this year, the prize will work with a single university annually to identify high performing students. These students, entering into their final year of school, will be invited to interview for el dorado’s internship summer program. These paid internships will also include an additional stipend as a reward for academic excellence. Each year the prize will go to a different university, with faculty being asked to nominate students. Interns will be versed in the specific way in which el dorado runs its practice. This includes design build and cross-disciplinary design. The pick of Arkansas as the first recipient of the prize was an easy choice for David Dowell, principal at el dorado. “Longstanding relationships with the University of Arkansas faculty and alumni, including staff and collaborators, and a growing body of architectural work in Northwest Arkansas make this inaugural choice a natural one,” remarked Dowell in a press release. The el dorado prize joins in on a long tradition of professional offices running academic programs and scholarships. These include the PGAV Destinations recent support of Washington University’s Alberti Program and the prestigious SOM Prize. Peter MacKeith commented on the importance of the prize to the school, “The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design is pleased to be the inaugural site for the el dorado Prize, an important summer internship program that will stimulate and recognize the excellence of professional architectural education in the Midwest region.”
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Here’s how a phone booth on the side of a highway in Arkansas landed on the National Register of Historic Places

It's no TARDIS, but the Prairie Grove, Arkansas, Airlight telephone booth, on U.S. 62 in front of the Colonial Motel, has defied cell phones and a near fatal encounter with a runaway SUV to become the first phone booth listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1959, this metal-and-glass Airlight booth was nominated in April by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. On November 9th, the National Park Service (NPS) accepted the Airlight into its pantheon of historic structures. Initially, the NPS had hesitations about the nomination. Arkansas Online reports that the National Register/survey coordinator for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Ralph Wilcox, received a letter from the National Register stating that the "'listing blurs the line between a 'place' and an artifact, and it begs the questions about where the line between significance and nostalgia is drawn.'" Wilcox emphatically disagreed, and re-submitted a nomination that emphasized the Airlight's distinctive historical characteristics. Prior to the development of the Airlight in 1954, Wilcox explained, phone booths were mostly made of wood and installed indoors. Developed for Bell Telephone System, the Airlight is the first telephone booth in the United States designed especially for the outdoors. The phone booth was intended to serve motorists traveling on the adjacent highway. Wilcox's response has precedent among progressive voices in the critical establishment. Almost a decade ago, BLDGBLOG founder Geoff Manaugh called for a democratization of the definition of architecture in a jeremiad on old school, Adorno-laden architectural criticism. To Manaugh, (some) architecture criticism repels potential readers because critics disdain the vernacular, the architecture of everyday space that most people experience:
Temporary Air Force bases, oil derricks, secret prisons, multi-story car parks, J.G. Ballard novels, Robocop, installation art, China Miéville, Department of Energy waste entombment sites in the mountains of southwest Nevada, Roden Crater, abandoned subway stations, Manhattan valve chambers, helicopter refueling platforms on artificial islands in the South China Sea, emergency space shuttle landing strips, particle accelerators, lunar bases, Antarctic research stations, Cape Canaveral, day-care centers on the fringes of Poughkeepsie, King of Prussia shopping malls, chippies, Fat Burger stands, Ghostbusters, mega-slums, Taco Bell, Salt Lake City multiplexes, Osakan monorail hubs, weather-research masts on the banks of the Yukon, Hadrian's Wall, Die Hard, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Akira, Franz Kafka, Gormenghast, San Diego's exurban archipelago of bad rancho housing, Denver sprawl, James Bond films, even, yes, Home Depot – not every one of those is a building, but they are all related to architecture.
The register divides important sites into five typologies: buildings, districts, sites, structures, and "large objects." The National Register has not shied away from kitschy or unusual listings in the latter category. In August 2002, the NPS granted a register spot to the World's Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Illinois. The 70-foot-tall condiment container has a capacity of 100,000 gallons and was built in 1949 for the Brooks (rich and tangy!) catsup company. Generally, properties have to be at least 50 years old to be listed on the National Register. According to David Parks, president of Prairie Grove Telephone Company, there are no plans to add an official marker to the site. The telephone company has thought about removing the phone booth, but keeps it standing for nostalgic purposes. It's a revenue generator, besides: the coin box yields three to four dollars in change per year.
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Walmart heirs hope the Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program will ramp up architectural standards in the state

In a bid to bolster an economic and population boom in Northwest Arkansas, plans are afoot to shore up and streamline the region’s architecture and landscape design. The Walton Family Foundation recently announced the launch of the Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program, in which previously vetted architects and public-space projects will receive financial support from the foundation at every stage of the design phase. The selection committee of distinguished architecture professionals and educators will earmark projects that are sustainable, contribute to the region’s walkability and, most of all, inspire a “sense of place.” While Northwest Arkansas comprises four cities—Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville—the program will be concentrated in the Benton and Washington counties, whose income per capita, while $2,000 shy of the national average, oustrips the other cities in the region by nearly 20 percent. “I think the interest within the building and design community has never been higher,” said Karen Minkel, Home Region program director at the Walton Family Foundation. “It seems like every week there’s an article about a downtown masterplan. I think there’s a general interest across the region. This program provides resources to grantees in that they can think carefully about how their project can contribute to the overall sense of place.” The program’s winning formula consists of complementing the public welfare objectives of school districts, county, state, and local municipalities and nonprofits with the cutting-edge design smarts of world-class architects, who will be handpicked for their ability to identify with the region’s character. Columbus, Indiana, stands as an exemplar of the power of nonprofits to raise the image of a city through design standards. An architecture aficionado and the former Chairman and CEO of Cummins, J. Irwin Miller started the Cummins Foundation’s architecture program in 1960, beginning with grants disbursed to schools in the town’s outskirts. It later spurred unprecedented designs like the glass-fronted, half-moon Columbus City Hall by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Eliel Saarinen’s strikingly modern First Christian Church, now city emblems. Meanwhile, Northwest Arkansas’ bragging rights include the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, designed by Moshe Safdie, the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville by Deborah Berke, the award-winning Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs by Faye Jones, and the Garland Center in Fayetteville by Knowles Blunck Architecture. Minkel relishes the idea of “complementing and reinvigorating the history of architectural design in the region, and the idea that it will become part of the vernacular and we can reinterpret it in different ways.” Like the Cummins program, the Walton Family Foundation foresees attracting and retaining top human resources as a byproduct of next-level design, an economic driver and a bid to raise the city’s architectural profile. “The program in Columbus, Indiana, has become a tourist mecca. We think this program can potentially benefit tourism in the region,” said Minkel. “If we talk about how it can contribute to sense of place and the overall urban fabric, that’s what’s attracting people to our overall downtown area and that’s what adding to our identity.” Interested architects have until September 16 to submit material for review. Applications should include a letter of interest, examples of five past projects, and the firm’s approach to creating a sense of place. For more information, visit the foundation's website.
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Marlon Blackwell on the Power of Everyday Design

Marlon Blackwell, principal of Marlon Blackwell Architects and distinguished professor and department head at the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, practices in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the temptation to design according to a derivative vernacular—and the risk of descending into quaintness—is great. Blackwell seeks instead to operate in the space between the vernacular and the universal, to create buildings that are simultaneously both and neither. "What emerges is something that I like to call the strangely familiar," he said. "We're working with forms in a cultural context that have a first reading of being familiar, but on a second, third, or fourth reading are clearly transgressive to either the local typology or the vernacular. What we try to do is kind of de-typify things—it's really about trying to find or develop an idea about performative surfaces." When Blackwell, who will deliver the afternoon keynote address at next month's Facades+ Dallas conference, talks about "performative surfaces," he does not necessarily mean high-tech building skins. "What I'm really talking about is something that's both sensual and sensible," he said. Blackwell prefers a more commonsensical approach to performance. "It's like the chicken farmer," he explained. "Chicken farmers have figured out that if they orient their large chicken sheds so that the narrow part faces east and west, the chickens don't cook before their time." In Arkansas, even high-profile projects like his Vol Walker Hall and Steven L. Anderson Design Center require careful attention to costs. "Given the modest budgets here, most of what we have to achieve is passive," he said. "I'm trying to instill this into buildings that don't necessarily come with honorific programs: they're everyday sorts of buildings, so consequently they're modest in their application or execution, but they're very high in their aspiration." Blackwell's early passion for drawing resonates through his work today. "I grew up as a cartoonist, so everything I've ever conceived of artistically or architecturally has been conceived of as a visage—as a profile or a silhouette," he said. "I really think of the buildings that we make as figures in a place—as having a figural presence. They become the expressive character of a place, and that expressive character is achieved through things like the envelope, rather than trying to achieve expressive character merely through form. As a result, we're able to build things." Blackwell hopes his own career can serve as a positive lesson to Facades+ Dallas attendees. "I'd like them to walk away thinking: I can do that," he concluded. "Not everybody can be Renzo Piano. There's that everyday kind of work that we do—there's no reason the aspiration has to be any different." To learn more about Facades+ Dallas or to register, visit the conference website.