A collection of work representing contemporary design culture and design thinking in Arkansas, assembled by the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, is on display at the Venice Biennale,the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, which opens to the public Saturday in Venice, Italy.
The six-month event, held every two years, takes place from May 28 to Nov. 27 in the Giardini, the Arsenale and various other venues in Venice. This year’s theme is “Reporting from the Front.” The exhibition features 88 participants from 37 different countries, as well as 62 national participations and a selected choice of collateral events. This year’s exhibition is directed by Alejandro Aravena and organized by La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta.
The Fay Jones School at the University of Arkansas was selected to be represented in the collateral events through the school’s alignment with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architects, a design practice led by Blackwell and based in Fayetteville.
Blackwell, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, is also a Distinguished Professor and holds the E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture for the Fay Jones School. Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center, is a Distinguished Professor and holds the Steven L. Anderson Chair in Architecture and Urban Studies.
The title of the Fay Jones School submission, “Building:Community,” describes the reciprocity of practice and service in the complementary (and sometimes collaborative) work of Marlon Blackwell Architects and the Community Design Center, as well as the place-based education of the Fay Jones School and the University of Arkansas, in support of the authentic and contemporary culture of Arkansas.
“The opportunity to promote the state and the university at this world architectural venue, through the design work being done by our distinguished faculty in the Fay Jones School, is an opportunity to advance the U of A identity to a significant international audience. I was happy to lend my support to such an ambitious project,” said Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz. “This is an impressive effort, and after such intense and challenging preparations, I’m pleased that the installation is now a reality we can proudly promote and bring to the attention of our community and all those who will visit the Biennale.”
The Fay Jones School exhibition is set up in the Palazzo Bembo, one of the spaces for the collateral events. Visitors will be able to experience the exhibition – which showcases the state’s natural resources, significant culture, and prominent industries, along with the school’s contributions to the state through design work and design education. Visitors also can take away three different postcards about the state and the school.
Josh Matthews, a Fay Jones School alumnus, designed the exhibition room for the University of Arkansas team.
“The Fay Jones School was pleased to be invited to participate in this collateral exhibition of the 15th Venice Biennale, and is very grateful to the chancellor and provost for their immediate and continuing support that has made our ‘Building:Community’ exhibition possible,” said Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School. “We have worked to design and install an exhibition that is reflective of the school, but also of the university and the state of Arkansas. Our commitment to the community of the state, as well as to excellence in professional architecture and design education, is the primary driver of our work.”
Projects in the exhibition display include Vol Walker Hall and the Steven L. Anderson Design Center, St. Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church and Gentry Public Library, all designed by Blackwell’s firm. Projects from the Community Design Center include Slow Street: A New Town Center for Mayflower, Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario and Conway Watershed Framework Plan.
One project — The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization for Little Rock — was a collaborative design between the Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architects.
The Fay Jones School will also participate in the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial and has been invited to return to the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design: The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas houses professional design programs of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design together with liberal studies programs. All of these programs combine studio design education with innovative teaching in history, theory, technology and urban design. A broad range of course offerings equips graduates with the knowledge and critical agility required to meet the challenges of designing for a changing world. Their training prepares students with critical frameworks for design thinking that also equip them to assume leadership roles in the profession and in their communities. The school’s architecture program was ranked 26th in the nation, and the 12th best program among public, land-grant universities, in the 16th Annual Survey of America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools, a study conducted in 2015 by the Design Futures Council and published inDesignIntelligence. For more information visit fayjones.uark.edu.