College + Center

Completed as Project Manager for Marlon Blackwell Architects
Professional photographs by Tim Hursley


College and Center is an adaptive reuse and renovation of a 1930s mercantile store and the new home for an architectural firm based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Decommissioned for nearly a decade, the outdated, textured stone veneer over concrete block building was renovated to include a gallery, studio, and tenant space. Located one block from Fayetteville’s downtown square, the building resides at an important intersection in a dynamic urban environment.

The renovation utilizes the existing shell, and structure while transforming the interior into a cohesive open space. The building was painted with white linseed oil paint to seal the existing porous veneer, and incorporates a graphic use of vertical gray stripes in concert with a composition of openings, and complimenting a mural across the street by artist Alexis Diaz. With the exception of one window, all existing window, door, and garage door openings are re-used and fitted with custom steel plate windows. Each window is an exploration of the element as a spatial proposition with references to the firm’s beloved influences such as Marcel Breuer, Sigurd Lewerentz, and Carlo Scarpa. Skylights are strategically placed to maximize passive daylighting, creating a sustainably illuminated office year-round.

The insertion of a bold three-dimensional programmed figure acts as a dynamic backdrop to the gallery and studio space, while providing necessary support programs including a breakroom, conference room, model shop, material library, server, restrooms, and lounge. By consolidating fundamental program elements, the studio is free to grow as needed. Complete with custom-built furniture, each workstation is designed to maximize efficiency and communication within the studio. While currently arranged with a single row of custom built desks, the studio space is optimistically designed to accommodate triple the occupancy.

College and Center is the physical manifestation of providing the past with a future, through repurposing and transforming, it echoes a progressive architectural studio’s process and principles.