Blessings Golf Club in Johnson, Ark. Photo by Timothy Hursley.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Architecture professor Marlon Blackwell has put Northwest Arkansas on the map – again. His Blessings Golf Clubhouse in Johnson, Ark., completed for John Tyson in 2006, is one of 1,037 projects from 89 countries showcased in the recently published Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture. The new atlas focuses on the best buildings of the new millennium, and builds on the success of the Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture (2004), which also featured Blackwell’s work.
“This latest publication provides more evidence that while Marlon’s work is locally inspired, it has relevance beyond this place,” said Jeff Shannon, dean of the School of Architecture. “Our students are fortunate to study with an architect who has developed international stature.”
“It’s certainly an honor to be included in this book,” Marlon Blackwell said, “and the work is in great company.”
Indeed. The 800-page, 15-pound tome, which comes with its own acid-green carrying case, is filled with work by architecture’s stars – Santiago Calatrava, Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Glenn Murcutt – as well as up-and-comers like Blackwell. On a two-page spread that includes the national award-winning William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Blackwell’s Blessings holds its own as a building of and for its place.
Instead of the antebellum home and hunting lodge typologies typically favored for golf clubs, Blackwell drew on the metal-clad agricultural buildings that dot the rural Ozarks for inspiration, creating a sleekly contemporary form. Sheathed in weathered copper and dry stacked stone from Paris, Ark., Blessings spans an Osage Indian archeological preservation zone to create an entry portal and event space that frames the 18th green. Cherry, walnut, leather and bluestone bring understated luxury to the club’s interior, while extensive glazing offers views of the course, hills and valleys.
“When we first saw the concept we were taken back a bit – it’s not your typical Southern golf club, which tends to be a traditional country club type building,” said Greg Jones, a local lawyer who is a member of Blessings Golf Club. “Now that it’s open we think it’s fabulous. When you’re inside, you feel that you’re outside – it’s a nice, bright, clean atmosphere.”
Blessings Golf Club has won honor awards from the Arkansas chapter and Gulf States regional division of the American Institute of Architects and has been previously published in Architect, Men’s Vogue and Arquine magazines.
Blackwell’s practice continues to expand. In addition to several private homes, he is designing an Eastern Orthodox church in Springdale and a visitor’s pavilion for the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Art and Nature Park.
Marlon Blackwell, professor, department of architecture
School of Architecture
Kendall Curlee, director of communications
School of Architecture