This is the Srygley office building by Marlon Blackwell (2003-04) in Johnson, Arkansas. If I hadn’t passed a sign that read ‘City of Johnson’, I would have still thought I was in Fayetteville (albeit on the rural outskirts).
This 4,000 square foot office building is tucked back in an office park and is demonstratively unique compared to the other buildings in the development (most of which look more like tract housing than office buildings). The front facade of the building does not face the street but that is far from the only thing that makes this building different from most commercial buildings. The front entry way is easy to find but not so easy to see – Marlon calls this a “slipped entry”. At the knuckle where the masonry base rotates off from the metal clad two-story, the fissure that is created is where visitors enter the building and are met by the most acrobatic dog I have ever seen in my life (white dog seen at doorway above). I swear that this knee-high tall dog went from standing by the door, to being 6′ off the floor about 25 times in a row. The whole time I was thinking “how do I change the f***ing setting on this camera to catch that dog in mid-air! I am seriously thinking about going back tomorrow just for that picture…
You enter into a double height lobby and to your right (in the masonry portion) is a collection of offices, a large workspace, and as seen through the large glass panes above, what was originally programmed as a telemarketing room but is now apparently the 1990 census paperwork. To the left of the lobby is the service core (bathrooms, closet and reception), an office, and exercise room – both of which empty out onto a cantilevered concrete deck the extends out over the receding ground-plan putting your view into the trees. On thee second level there is for all extents, an apartment that contains a kitchen, bathroom, a general purpose room (bedroom) and a large space created for the purpose of smoking cigars, drinking wine and generally enjoying yourself. There is another exterior patio off this large second level room that would put you right at the tops of the trees – there is a Nana door system in place so the entire glass wall separating the inside from outside can slide out-of-the-way (probably a good thing considering the room was purposed for smoking cigars).
I spent a majority of my time on the outside of the building but one of the things that I really appreciated, is that this building didn’t seem precious, intrinsic-most definitely, but not revered in a way you put something precious in a glass case for protection (like a Babe Ruth baseball card). Several of the rooms had evidence of use, even mis-use . Things were stacked up everywhere and placed in front of windows, along walls – literally everywhere. When touring the cigar shop earlier, I learned from the shop owner Angel that this owner liked to hold onto things….that’s okay. I prefer buildings that look like their occupants use them and that the buildings evolve and adapt beyond the original programming.
These are incredibly self-indulgent photographs but I have to get better at using this camera sooner…I am wishing that I took some pictures of the development around the building to show you. Lesson learned.