Grand Award 3: Main Street Marvel

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This commercial remodeling project in Arkansas wins a Grand Award for its engaging design within a conservative budget.

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Location: Gentry, Ark.
Contractor: Albert Hertzing , SSi Inc. of Northwest Arkansas, Tontitown, Ark.
Designer: Marlon Blackwell, Marlon Blackwell Architect, Fayetteville, Ark.
Structural engineer: Joseph Looney, Joseph Looney and Associates, Lowell, Ark.

The residents of this small Arkansas town wanted to keep the exterior of the 1908 hardware store visually intact, but they needed a new library with a community center, as well as storage for the city’s history and genealogy collection.

To meet the community’s requirements, architect Marlon Blackwell worked within the building’s existing brick shell, adding a load-bearing steel plate and glass curtain wall to the front with a display area for books.

“The exterior is engaging to the pedestrians going by on this classic Main Street,” one judge said.

The judges also praised the team’s effective use of the $1.13 million budget: “They accomplished a lot of things. With a couple of remarkable gestures, they’ve made it magical.”

The project’s most noteworthy element, the judges agreed, was the new fenestration, especially the windows on either side of the building. “The pop-out windows are wonderful,” commented one judge. “It’s a great way to bring in light.”

To preserve the second-floor windows, Blackwell floated sheets of glass over the eight openings. He also incorporated other existing details into the design, including the original tin ceiling and mechanical hand lift for horse carriages. He reconstructed the existing skylight as a vertical glass column.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING