An education project from Marlon Blackwell Architects has just been announced as the winner of a 2022 Dedalo Minosse International Prize by the Italian ALA-Assoarchitetti and Regione del Veneto.
Located in metro Detroit, Blackwell’s Marygrove Early Education Center was commissioned by the Kresge Foundation (the official recipient of this Regione del Veneto Special Prize) to support the revitalization of Detroit’s Livernois-McNichols neighborhood and its shuttered Marygrove College campus with a brand-new facility that serves 150 students under the age of five.
The firm’s founder and longtime University of Arkansas professor called the recognition a “testament to the vital mission-driven collaboration between our client and design team.”
The 28,871-square-foot structure comes clad in a modern terra cotta facade that’s interspersed with colorful highlights to present a distinctive yet welcoming building profile that shields three exterior courtyards and interior educational spaces that are flooded with natural light.
Additional support spaces, such as a parents' lounge, community room, and flexible space, are programmed around the entrance. The firm says its design was informed through a community input process that included parents and children and is in line with best practices in behavioral health and early childhood education.
The project also ties into Detroit's P-20 program, which is helping to transform the rest of Marygrove's campus into a comprehensive Cradle-to-Career Campus that serves 1,000 students from nearby communities.
The Foundation said that Blackwell's new centerpiece was necessary to "highlight the critical significance of early childhood education through a new building with the highest aspirations for design" and help extend the former institution's legacy as a "beacon of education" years after its operation had ceased.
“Marlon Blackwell has created a transformational space that demonstrates dignity for young children. It’s a magnificent and integral part of a neighborhood working to revive,” Wendy Lewis Jackson, the managing director of the Foundation’s Detroit Program, said of the design.
“To see this Detroit project honored by an international panel of judges is an incredible validation of what we’ve achieved with our Marygrove campus partners,” Jackson added.
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