Marlon Blackwell Architects - The Lamplighter School Innovation Lab + Red Barn
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The Lamplighter School Innovation Lab + Red Barn

Marlon Blackwell Architects

Education  /  Completed
Marlon Blackwell Architects
Originally designed by O’Neil Ford in the late 1960s, The Lamplighter School enjoys a rich architectural heritage. The campus boasts a design highlighted by open learning spaces, a close relationship with nature, and a “village” composition developed from the original O’Neil Ford plan. Together, the landscape and architecture beautifully reflect the school’s teaching and learning styles.

In the spring of 2014, The Lamplighter School undertook an ambitious plan to reimagine their campus. An updated masterplan shifts vehicular circulation to the periphery of the site, enlarges the central landscape, and provides space for a new, freestanding Innovation Lab and Teaching Barn. Renovations and additions to the existing buildings and a refreshing of the surrounding landscape instill new energy within the campus.

As the centerpiece of the expansion and renovation project, the approximately 10,000 square foot Innovation Lab to serves the school’s 450 Pre-K through 4th-grade student population. Programmed with hands-on learning classrooms, including woodshop, robotics lab, and teaching kitchen, the building is an expression of the educational values and vision of the Lamplighter School, one that suggests a holistic approach to design, systems, and learning with a relationship to the natural environment. The Innovation Lab contributes to the vitality of the existing campus of buildings and landscape spaces, while establishing a 21st Century identity.

A new Red Barn is sited nearby the Innovation Lab along the new ring-road. This simple structure is an integral part of the culture of learning at the Lamplighter School: it is simultaneously a chicken coop, learning lab, and creative space. Students care for the chickens and harvest the eggs as part of their school work. They learn to develop business plans, track inventory, and market the eggs for sale. The previous barn structure was well-loved but enjoyed little presence on the campus. By reimagining the formal language of the building, the Barn becomes an icon on the campus along, a landmark that is as integral to the masterplan as it is to the pedagogy of the School.

The renewal of the Lamplighter School campus continues even after completion of the Innovation Lab and Red Barn. Phase 2 of the project improves the existing buildings by providing an updated, appropriate, and holistic approach for the reconfiguration of administrative and teaching spaces. In addition to the building renovations and additions, work will extend broadly across the campus, improving and refining and securing the movement of both people and their vehicles, while establishing a more direct and physical connection to the natural world. This modernization will allow for continued growth and strengthening the school’s original mission.


 Dallas, Texas
 United States of America
 The Lamplighter School
 12266 mq
 Marlon Blackwell Architects
 Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Meryati Blackwell, AIA, ASID, LEED AP, BD+C, Bradford Payne, AIA, Spencer Curtis, Assoc. AIA, Stephen Reyenga, Assoc. AIA, Cydney Jaggers, Assoc. AIA, Stephen Kesel, AIA, Kertis Weatherby, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, Jonathan Boelkins, AIA
 Hill & Wilkinson
 Talley Associates Inc, Essential Light Design Studio, LLC Raymond L. Goodson Jr. Inc, Reed, Wells, Benson and Company
 Timothy Hursley


Established in 1990, Marlon Blackwell Architects (MBA) is an agile, full-service design firm located in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Our belief that architecture can happen anywhere, at any scale, at any budget - for anyone - drives us to challenge the conventions and models that often obscure other possibilities. We use an economy of means to deliver a maximum of meaning in places where architecture is often not expected to be found.

MBA has earned an international design reputation through recognition of its work in many publications, including architectural design journals and books, and receiving more than 120 design awards including state, regional, national and international awards. MBA received the National Design Award in Architecture from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in 2016, was ranked #1 in Design by the Architect 50 in 2016, and was the 2011 Residential Architect Magazine Firm of the Year.

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