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“PS1200” Mixed-Use Complex

New Community Development

Marlon Blackwell Architects

“PS1200” Mixed-Use Complex
By Raymund Ryan -

Community is a word frequently heard these days in the United States. Community signals authenticity and is usually, in one way or another, in opposition to rampant capitalism. Neighborhoods can reinforce themselves against divisive development in ways that may not be immediately visible – maintaining rights to low-income housing, for instance, or mitigating energy consumption. Building community in terms of new construction and urban design does, however, entail visibility and certain preconceived notions we all have regarding home, shelter, and gathering.

With PS1200 in Fort Worth, Texas, Marlon Blackwell Architects and client Prince Concepts have realized a cheeky prototype for how urban zones across the United States might accommodate adventurous residents and gutsy small businesses in eye-catching architectural forms. These forms and the programs they accommodate talk to and reinforce one another to mutual benefit.

Marlon Blackwell is himself an authentic, an independently minded architect working out of Arkansas, a state hitherto known as the birthplace of Edward Durell Stone, designer of decorative landmark buildings for the U.S. Establishment in the 1950s and ’60s, and the fertile native ground for E. Fay Jones, architect of many poetic houses and chapels inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Blackwell has more in common with Jones, working with the realities of regions he has closely scrutinized. He typically harnesses available materials and modes of construction to achieve a new, legible, and provocative architecture.

In Fort Worth, architect and client have engaged the generic Quonset hut as the literal building block for the multivalent community at 1200 6th Avenue. Mass-produced for rapid installation and maximal interior space during World War II, the Quonset hut has been cloned and tweaked across North America ever since.

Blackwell’s client (perhaps patron is a more accurate...

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