Lilly Pavilion at IMA 100 Acres – Marlon Blackwell

I took advantage of a beautiful mid-80’s day with low humidity to take a stroll around the 100 Acres, a new art and sculpture park on the campus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I specifically went to see the Visitors Center by Marlon Blackwell, an architect I admire for the sense of place and regionalism found in his works.

I found a pavilion that is an extension of the path through the park. The path raises to form a plinth and folds to create the roof plane for two bars of program (an all-glazed public bar, and a dark wood-clad service bar). The way the path embraces the building throughly incorporates it into the surrounding landscape, which given the siting of the center wasn’t an easy task (it is placed in the middle of old/somewhat old growth forest and could have potentially ended up as an object in a field overpowering the landscape).

The project is very well detailed, with steel structure hidden by the folded wooden floor/path/roof plane, steel columns painted brown to suggest trees that once grew on site. The gaps in the wooden slats of the roof plane which provide an amazing phenomenological affect to the project, are mirrored in the floor plane with use of plexiglass strips; just two of the many well thought out details on the project. I visited the project last December as well, when there was close to two feet of snow on the ground and 20 degree temperatures. Even in that climate, the building integrates itself in the landscape; never overpowering or becoming a precious object in a field, but one that needs its landscape to become whole.


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Josh Mings

Architect and painter. Columbus, IN born, New Orleans educated, Chicago living and trying to leave the world better than I found it.