Heavenly Metal

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Architect Marlon Blackwell has created a whimsical and iconic house of worship from a former work shed.

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Project Info

Architect: Marlon Blackwell, Marlon Blackwell Architect, Fayetteville, Ark.
Contractor: Don Lourie, Don Lourie Construction, Springdale, Ark.


  • Create a home for the Saint Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church in anticipation of a larger adjacent sanctuary on the same site
  • Transform an existing metal shop into a bold, striking house of worship


Anyone passing through Springdale, Ark., on Interstate 540 will do a double-take when they see the Saint Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church standing out among the farmhouses, tractor sheds, and cattle. To put it mildly, the church draws the eye. Fashioned from a former metal shop, this 2,420-square-foot building has been, well, reborn.

The typical “work shed” skin has been replaced with sleek, modern box rib metal panel siding, while the interior has been transformed with the addition of a second floor containing storage, an office, a restroom, and a mezzanine.

A cross-shaped stained glass window and a lightwell in the steeple succeed in bathing the space in natural light. The congregation is seated beneath a domed ceiling that has been created from an old satellite dish — the ultimate in recycling. New windows over the choir area and a 30-foot-wide transom behind the altar immerse the sanctuary in soft light for Sunday morning services.

Judges’ comments

“I love it,” one judge said. “It is a great example of repurposing of space in a way that is both iconic and whimsical.”