Fayetteville Montessori School Additions/renovations

CompanyMarlon Blackwell Architects with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects
Lead DesignerMarlon Blackwell Architects
Design Team Marlon Blackwell, FAIA Meryati Johari Blackwell, Assoc. AIA, NCIDQ, ASID, LEED AP BD+D Bradford Payne, Assoc. AIA Michael Pope Jonathan Boelkins, AIA Justin Hershberger, Assoc. AIA Stephen Reyenga, Assoc. AIA William Burks, Assoc. AIA Spencer Curtis, Assoc. AIA, Stephen Kesel
PrizeGold in Architectural Design / Educational Buildings

The initial home of the Fayetteville Montessori School occupied a corner of a nondescript 1980’s office park, branded ‘Colt Square’ in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as well as a remote facility to manage enrollment overflow. Through two interventions, in 2012 and 2015, the Campus has been developed and expanded so that the facilities and classrooms could fully support the environment of thoughtful exploration that is the hallmark of the Montessori Educational Method. In 2012, the School acquired an adjacent plot to consolidate elementary education and centralize the campus. Bounded by a creek, the new site was restricted by floodplain setbacks, leaving only a small wedge to build on. Housing a central drop-off, a new commercial kitchen and 4 classrooms, the new building employs both a courtyard rain garden and a green roof to control runoff, which contributes to the reduction of storm-water flood events. In 2015, growth, spurred by the success of the earlier expansion, demanded 9 additional classrooms for primary care, serving children ages 2-5. The School purchased the neighboring strip mall, recently home to professional offices and a barbershop. Made accessible by a new pedestrian bridge, the renovation stripped the EIFS building to its wood studs and concrete slab, so that it could be refitted according to the material logic established by the elementary building. The overhanging carapace walls shroud the classrooms, providing a dynamic form as well as shade and privacy to the extensive glazing that is marks the south and west facades. A simple palette of dark bronze, box rib panels, and clear cedar, when paired with the dynamic forms creates a clear identity for the school apart from the banality that surrounds. The taut high performance campus invites students, parents and teachers alike to explore the relationship between the built and the natural worlds.